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30 November, 2005

Mute maids of the malls

It's a common sight across the UAE: a downtrodden-looking young maid, often Indonesian or Malaysian in appearance, pushing a child in a pram or pushchair. A hijab fully covers her hair, her eyes are lowered, and she does not look at or speak to anyone: not even the child, not even if it starts screaming or throwing a tantrum.

Usually this maid is working for a local family, who mill around nearby generally ignoring her. Less often the family are expat Arabs, or of European appearance.

Even those of us who don't have children must wonder how appropriate it is for an infant to be reared by a silent, effectively dumb, servile human being. What kind of message does it give out about human dignity and respect? What kind of stimulation does it give to small children in their most formative years?

Even if this subservience is only for the sake of public appearance, and the maid is in fact more relaxed and animated back at the family home, what example is it setting for the child that its hired carer should creep around in public like a muted mule?

Encouraging, then, to see the Sharjah Family Affairs Council questioning the practice:

"The conference... also advised nationals not to employ maids to raise children, since that would affect adversely the child's personality development."

One British couple had a live-in housekeeper at their Jumeirah villa. When they heard their children talking rudely and superciliously to her, as though she was a lesser human being, they instantly ended the arrangement, and had a professional cleaning lady visit in daytime hours only.

We are all born equal. We just don't all live to be treated equally.

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Blogger sandsOfTime said...

SD: As long as I can remember we had a live in maid. Fortunatly, our family has always treated the maids with respect and most are now married with children in college. Unfortunatly, my family has been the exception to the rule where maids are treated as chattel. I am encouraged by the fact that many of our younger nationals have decided to fore go maids entirely when forming a family. Ourselves, we have our house cleaned on a weekly basis through a professional service provider, we had decided a while ago that our children will not be raised by a servant and will learn to take care of themselves from an early age. To do that, we had to set the example ourselves and live the way we want our children to follow.

30 November, 2005 03:58  
Blogger samuraisam said...

there is still the unspoken phenomenon of children speaking indian, philipino, and pakistani before they can speak any arabic/english whatsoever

30 November, 2005 04:03  
Blogger secretdubai said...

sandsoftime - that is really encouraging to hear. I think lack of education is often the problem with some families: because they weren't well educated themselves, they don't realise the difference that it makes having a nanny who will talk to a child, maybe help it with its numbers etc, rather than just fetch and carry for it all day.

I have nothing against childcare or working mothers - I think a good, professional nanny can often be more beneficial to a child than a stressed, unhappy parent who misses their job and is anxious about financial security. After all, in most traditional societies, child-rearing is far more of a community effort (grandparents, aunts, older siblings) than the propaganda image of a 1950's-stay-at-home-housewife that western countries churned out after the war. It's laudable that so many young women here go back to university after starting a family.

30 November, 2005 04:07  
Blogger secretdubai said...

there is still the unspoken phenomenon of children speaking indian, philipino, and pakistani before they can speak any arabic/english whatsoever

I actually like that idea - children up to about the age of eight can learn a language with native fluency, so as long as they know their parental/national language by that age, it makes no difference if they first learnt something else. It's even an advantage:

"Coordinate and compound bilinguals are reported to have a higher cognitive proficiency, and are found to be better L2-learners at a later age, than monolinguals."

30 November, 2005 04:10  
Blogger Al Ain Taxi said...

You do notice a difference between kids who have a maid in the house and those who don't. Some of my child's school friends are looked after by maids and they are much more demanding. Not only that but they seem to treat any adult who is caring for them as a subservient!

30 November, 2005 08:40  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spot on Al Ain Taxi.
I tried to have a relation once with a maid raised person.
I was looked upon as multirole servant like driver, doctor, chef, entertainer, clelaner, you name it.

30 November, 2005 08:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have a maid and we treat her real good so much so that she is included in the table breakfast, lunch and dinner. I can' really undrestand how can other people threat the help like slaves.

30 November, 2005 09:19  
Blogger samuraisam said...

SD: that phenomenon really worries some people in the UAE, and it is happening, the fact is that they dont learn arabic / english at all until they are quite older

wait until you visit someones house where they are almost 18 years old and they have a housemaid making toast, and then spreading butter and nutella on the toast for them.

30 November, 2005 09:26  
Blogger * said...

What kind of stimulation does it give to small children in their most formative years?

IT PREPARES THEM TO BE FUTURE "ARBAABS". Its finishing school for them. This is why they never learn any respect for their own kind or others. These are the ones that drive like Stevie Wonder, harass women , and know they will "ALWAYS" get away with it.

30 November, 2005 09:41  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK - I just have to jump in and share my point of view here..

I am a mother of a fifteen month old boy.. I have worked ever since I can remember and love it.. It gives me sanity and a sense of accomplishment..

When I got pregnant - my husband and I decided that I would leave work for at least two years to be a 'stay-at-home-mom' which I was excited about.. After all, motherhood was supposed to be the most fulfilling job in the world, right?


While it was (and has been) an incredibly amazing experience.. I realized early on that I would very quickly lose my sense of 'me' if I didn't do something soon.. I reached a point where a full-day with my son would drain me and leave me wiped out with sheer exhaustion and make me feel like I was doing nothing worthwhile as a productive human being.. Never mind the constant bickering between me and my husband over trivial things like not putting the dirty dishes in the sink..

I was lucky enough to find a part-time job at that point.. And decided that a little 'break' away from each other would do my son and me some good.. (It did by the way - extremely healthy - i would recommend it)

I was adamant about not getting a maid - especially being a Cell Block G resident and our cells being the size they are..

Enter daycare..

We decided we would feel more comfortable with my son in a daycare situation than at home all day with someone.. It was the the best decision in our case..

Unfortunately - nurseries here have many drawbacks.. I'll list a few:
1. Most are off Thursdays and Fridays (what about those of us who work Thursdays?)
2. They structure their holidays like schools - which means a 2-3 week vacation every three months or so (what company will give anyone that much time off?)
3. Children who go to daycare will probably get sick more often than others who don't (which means more time off from work for the mom/dad)
4. THEY ARE EXPENSIVE!!! The only three nurseries in the vicinity of Cell Block G who accept children under 1 yr cost something between 2000 - 3000 AED a MONTH for around 5 hours of daycare - 5 days a week.. (yup - higher than most rents in G :))

For cleaning the house, we opted for a part-time helper 2 hours a day.. You do the math.. We ended up paying double what we would pay a full-time housekeeper.. for a fraction of the actual work.. Never mind the inconvenience and unpredictability ..

Factor in what we paid for the odd babysitting job every now and then and you got a whole slew of new expenses.

Anyway - about a year later - I decided to quit my job because - honestly - it was cheaper for me to stay at home :)

However - I am going back to work full-time in January.. I learned from my previous experience though.. I hired a full-time, live-in housekeeper whose main job will be keeping the house clean and babysitting on the days that my son isn't able to go to his (much cheaper now that he's over a year) nursery.. She will not be raising my son - my husband and I will.. With a bit of support from his nursery, her, our family of friends who live nearby..

I really didn't mean to ramble and bore you all with the details - but I felt that someone had to jump in and point out the other point of view..

Back 'home' - young families usually rely on their 'village' for support in raising their children.. I know where I come from, it's taken for granted that grandmothers/aunts/uncles/cousins will babysit and watch the kids when the parents can't..

Even if one of the parents doesn't work - it's nice to know that they have the option of spending time alone together as a couple when they want to..

Unfortunately - we don't have this option here - at least most of us don't, not without a big chunk of your income going towards it..

It goes without saying that this new addition to our family will be treated like one of its members.. We're planning on moving from our 2-bedroom to a three-bedroom just so she can have her own room and privacy when she wants it.. (if anyone knows someone who wants to exchange at Cell block G - please let me know!)

Just for the record - I grew up in a family that always had a full-time maid.. They did not raise us - my parents did - but they helped my mom keep her sanity by cleaning the house, lending a hand with us every now and then and giving her the occasional time off for a night out with friends..

I did not grow up spoiled, dependant or lazy.. But I guess that was the way my parents brought us up.. Their rule was - as long as you can do it - DO IT - don't ask her for it.. This applied to cleaning our rooms, folding our laundry, making our beds, fixing our school lunches.. etc.. They made it a point that she was not here as our own personal servant, but as someone who was there to help us around the house..

We also had to help her out with her chores when there were big dinners or lots of guests..

Anyway - again - I am sorry to ramble.. And I am not trying to justify or defend anyone's choice.. But I thought I might chip in with my two cents worth..

Mayhem Mom

30 November, 2005 09:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There used to be a time when bringing up a child used to be a worthwhile and fulfilling job. Its bad that people dont feel the same nowadays.

30 November, 2005 10:12  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some people might not have a choice.
Maybe both parents needs to go to work in order to ensure financial stability.
En europe it`s more common with daycare centres since maids are utterly uncommon and of cource very expensive.

30 November, 2005 10:47  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Mayhem Mom - thanks for your comments.

This is not about whether having a nanny is wrong - as mentioned I think it's fine, even better than giving a career (what kind of exxample does that set, after all?) - it is about the difference between a "servant" and a (treated-with-respect) "child carer" bringing up your kids.

You're totally in the latter category ;)

30 November, 2005 12:03  
Blogger Slagothor said...


There are no such languages as Philipino, Indian and Pakistani. I think the proper languages are (a) Filipino or Tagalog, (b) Hindi, or any one of about a hundred other languages spoken in India, and (c) Urdu.

Besides, most of the maids likely speak Bahasa Melayu as a mother tongue.

Anyway, SD, we have to come to terms with the reality that the UAE is a caste society. I take solace in the idea that the spread of that nasty, egalitarian, reason-based western imperialist TV culture is probably undermining it, little by little. One day, the whole world will be a meritocracy.

30 November, 2005 12:03  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to be pedantic but you wrote 'it's a common site' instead of 'it's a common sight'.

Agree with all your comments your blog!

30 November, 2005 12:22  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are right in saying "expat Arabs" SD. The locals are generally down to earth in terms of human relations. Its the so called Expat Arabs who ill-treat the Maids. I have seen a 12 year old boy making the maid Carrying his small achool bag till the school bus when i go to drop my 4 yr old son who carried his own school bag.

These Expat arabs from very poor mediterranean countries just get exited with their current status of being in UAE, and the comfort of having a maid..they just go ahead and ill-treat. Many a situation , i've also noticed the maid waiting outside the restaurant managing two uncontrollable kids.
These kids grow up becoming very uncontrollable. Have you heard of the following?
1. Kids throwing coke bottles from 7th floor to the cars parked below.
2.Kids scratching cars with stones..
3.Kids barging inside our house and start playing inside the house.
4. Kids throwing food inside the lift..outside..everywhere..
5.Kids rollerscatting in a busy road
6.Kids showing fingers to elderly people.
7.Kids spitting on people from school bus.. ( I once faced this situation opp belhasa driving school in Jumeira..February 2005...i was waiting for Taxi when a school bus came in and two guys shown me finger..and i never shown any sign of getting pissed off...and suddenly when it reached near of them tried spitting on me..i tactfully moved..but am 100% sure that those kids are EXPAT ARAB Kids)

All the kids that i see doing something notorious are also Expat Arab kids..Mainly because there parents have notdone somethiung called "parenting" and they always grown up taking the poor maid for a ride.

You are 100% right SD

30 November, 2005 12:35  
Blogger 3omani said...

Keeping maids comes with a bunch of problems that are often ignored by the parents. First, of course, is some of the basic rights that the maids are often denied (which the media and blogs in the Gulf seem to be giving enough attention to) but more important is how some of these maids let out the frustration of being denied the rights. The children are usually the victims. I've heard (and seen) many maids abuse the children. Unfortunately, the cycle will contine. It will be these kids that will grow up to employ maids to treat them badly and subject their kids to the treatment they themselves faced by the maids. Sad indeed.

30 November, 2005 12:47  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Pedant anonymous - I love you! Can't believe I did that - fixed now ;)

30 November, 2005 12:50  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Hummm. Interesting observation on sub-human behaviour derived from racist elitists who made slavery fashionable and nannies fantasy toys.

30 November, 2005 12:58  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon1. you need to get a life AND a nanny. you seem to be under 10. or is that just your IQ ?

30 November, 2005 13:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our maid is very happy in her work. She cooks and cleans and we look after her. She does this so my wife can spend even more time with our children

BTW - I know someone who refers to their Sri Lankan maid as 'The childrens nanny'!!!! Get over yourself.

30 November, 2005 13:27  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon @ 13:17 said:

Anon1. you need to get a life AND a nanny. you seem to be under 10. or is that just your IQ ?

Actually it is the blogs I frequent and their visitors who have this effect on me.

I also must admit that I have a mental regression derived from a cultural shock in front of Oh so erudite elitist Westerners who are enlighten our lives with democracy and if that is not enough, then add few phosphor chandeliers for good measure.

30 November, 2005 13:33  
Blogger Parv said...

I am fascinated by this concept you call 'hiring a maid'. When I was a wee lass (roughly about 25 years ago), our mommy would leave us in the capable hands of the neighborhood nursery, where we would adorn the walls with crayon and/or finger paints, or play mindless games, running around in little circles.

As we grew older, the schoolbus would drop us at a friend's house where his grandmother would take care of us till our parents got back from work. We called her "nana".

My mommy was the true superstar. She'd get out of work, pick us up from nana's, get us home, cook dinner, help us with our homework, and tuck us into bed before finally getting some rest. She never wanted a maid for fear that we would end up being spoilt brats unable to fend for ourselves.

Thank God for that. We grew up to be respectful (and respected), well-rounded individuals that can do our own laundry, clean our own homes, and cook our own meals....oh yeah, and take care of our children.

Just my two cents.

30 November, 2005 13:54  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A slight deviation from the topic but does anyone seem to notice the cost of sending you child to a nursery.A friend of mine had to send their family back home(India) because he couldn't afford the rent hikes and the cost of sending his kid to nursery school on top of everything else.

I think that Dhs 500 for nursery school is a bit high too because its not a daycare but a necessary preschool stage.If a middle class earning family can't afford to send their kids to school or rent an appartment in Dubai then this city surely hasn't progressed much.Progress does not mean eliminating the poor.

30 November, 2005 14:36  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey SD,

from what I gather you are a journalist and you tend to attend many many Press events.

Since I work for a PR company we have most probably run into each other a few times.

Now my mission is to figure out who you are, so I can buy you a drink.

- BB

30 November, 2005 14:50  
Blogger monkey16667 said...


I always thought the main point of the maid was not to take care of the little kid but to feed the needs of the big boy in the house.

You know.

Better to have the "entertainment" at home rather than let the big boy stray.

I think the taking care of the kids is a charade.

And dont believe that demure, subjugated attitude they all resonate. They are atually all immoral harlots (judging by the number of them that get knocked up)

30 November, 2005 14:55  
Blogger CG said...

Children can very quickly learn how to boss the maid around. The trick is to be careful about how you, the parents and employer talk to the maid in front of the kids. No matter how mad or steaming I get with the maids, I always wait until we are alone to discuss the matter, for 2 reasons. 1) I don't want the kids to hear. 2) I am less mad later and can discuss rationally.

Some people and in particular some nationalities just cannot understand this way of thinking. My kids know that maids are here to earn money and usually come from rather 'poor' backgrounds, but this does not make the maids beneath us. They have the same rights and needs as the next human being. If children know this, then there is a much better chance of them showing respect.
Most of the children I have seen who are abusive towards maids generally come from lower class backgrounds themselves, therefore the parents are on an ego trip...cos they have a maid in tow.
Regarding the language....well my kids have learnt a few songs in different languages but I have never felt that the languages we speak at home have ever been compromised by having maids around. It usually works the other way and the maids who arrive here speaking nothing but their native language leave us fluent in English & Arabic.

30 November, 2005 14:56  
Blogger samuraisam said...


you are so observant.

you deserve a cookie.

30 November, 2005 15:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Messages of love only at:

Dubai Blog

30 November, 2005 16:17  
Blogger AkaRound Peg said...

Another common sight is at a restaurant whenre tha family is sitting together at the table digging into mounds of food and the maid is alone
i. At another table baby sitting the brat or feeding the brat.
ii. At another table sipping a cola or just sitting staring vacantly at nothing.
iii. Sitting at the entrance staring vacantly at nothing.

QUite apart from the humanitarian aspect of treating maids well, there is an element of self interest - if you have a happy maid she is more likely to take better care of your kids.

The Indonesian maid next door is often up till 12 midnight doing dishes. I have also seen her whack the kids. You cant blame her - she is so tired that after a while her patience with the 2 small extremely demanding children justs gives way.

I choose to stay at home and look after my son but if I had to work again, I would probably keep a maid just to look after my son - it is hard work to single handedly cook, clean AND look after an infant.

30 November, 2005 16:22  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

samuraisam @ 4.03
(sigh !)

there is no language called ' INDIAN' or 'PAKISTANI' or 'PHILIPINO'. India has more than 20 official languages and more than 800 dialects, Hindi being the most prominent. The language of Pakistan is Urdu and of Phillipines is Tagalog.


30 November, 2005 16:41  
Blogger samuraisam said...

do you really want me to list all of the possible forms of indian, pakistani, sri lankan, filipino, chinese, korean, japanese, anglo saxon, cantonese, thai, and anatartacanese language? i'm pretty sure i'd be willing to spend the ten minutes required and fill 35 pages with size 12, double spaced writing that i'm pretty sure no one would read.

FYI, At least 30 different languages and around 2000 dialects have been identified in India, and there are "22 scheduled languages" whatever that is supposed to mean.

Being clueless in the study of linguistics i can certainly say that i am in no way going to make an effort to cover an absurdly long list of languages, therefore, i did the amazing, unspeakable, and certainly totally rad: i took a list of 2000 items, and compressed it into 1. I am so ground breaking, i think i deserve a cookie. i mean, how come no one else on planet earth has come up with this unique way to compress ginormous lists into 1?

anonymous @ 16:41: read above.

30 November, 2005 17:21  
Blogger samuraisam said...

oh yeah, whoever spots the contradiction gets a totally rad cookie.

30 November, 2005 17:27  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

rather than sounding 'rad', you sounded ignorant... oh well !

30 November, 2005 17:33  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tried to explain to our recently hired maid that 'my son will obey her, not the opposite'. However, I noticed that she is so shy that it will take some time and a lot of my support for her to learn to be assertive. I don't know whether this is a cultural trait or if she was told during the trainning in her home country to act subserviently.

It breaks my heart to see someone in such a vulnerable position... Maids here are usually threatened with physical punishment by their 'agents', and if you add racist employers to that equation, the results cannot be good.

Fighting for justice starts at home. That's the lesson I hope my child will learn.

30 November, 2005 18:10  
Blogger waterboy said...

They're usually pretty young, foreign maids, so assertiveness isn't something that they've learned yet in life - let alone in 'training'. It's sad, really.

30 November, 2005 21:33  
Blogger _sublime_ said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

30 November, 2005 22:23  
Blogger _sublime_ said...

I just can't see why anybody needs a maid, full time or otherwise. Face it, it's just another one of those Dubai luxuries for the decadent, whatever the nationality.

Come back to earth where it doesn't actually take that much effort to clean your own dishes, floors and toilets and do your own frikkin' laundry. It takes, what, 2-4 hours a week? Puhleeze, the average Dubaiian spends more time than that just looking in the mirror!

And while I'm at it I would like to add that anyone who abuses their position of power over their maid is probably doing it because of a sense of their own inferiority/inability to get laid any other way. Pity the fools for thinking that they're actually fooling anybody.

30 November, 2005 22:25  
Blogger _sublime_ said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

30 November, 2005 22:35  
Blogger _sublime_ said...

Oh yeah and to Anon1 with the typical bee in his bonnet:

Why do you think that the concept of domestic servants is a uniquely Western one? There has been slavery in most cultures for centuries...the practice of which, I might add, ended (arguably) in the UAE only about 40 years ago.

So why not get off your high horse (camel?) before you fall and hurt yourself? Oh that's right, your maid will catch you.

30 November, 2005 22:39  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well - we all seem to be on a bit of a ramble but the maid topic is certainly one of great interest to many. I have to admit that on more than one occasion I'd see someone fitting sd's description and wonder if perhaps she needed help to escape so would be extra vigilant in case she was trying to pass me a note or something. Maybe a bit melodramatic, and it's never happened yet but I'll be ready if/when it does. On the issue of maids and child-rearing, I'd like to say that we've managed to raise three good, kind and respectful children and employ a full time maid. Not that difficult. Ever heard of The Golden Rule? And why am I always too late to read the 'comment deleted'?

30 November, 2005 23:24  
Blogger secretdubai said...

The comment deleted above was a duplicate/edit, I think, deleted by sublime. You didn't miss anything juicy! I usually tidy those up by perma-deleting. Sometimes people have connection issues (Etisalat!) and end up posting five times in a row by accident. Or they comment but put in a typo, then re-comment correcting it. Again, they or I generally delete the earlier duplicates.

I rarely if ever delete people's comments for other reasons - and when I do, I pretty much always post to say why, and paste the acceptable part of their comment in my comment.

The only exception is a weirdo who's been spamming old entries of this blog with harassing, defamatory comments about a woman in Dubai he has issues with, including posting her private address and phone number. Those I now insta-delete with no further comment.

30 November, 2005 23:33  
Blogger samuraisam said...

_sublime_ in your wildest dreams it takes 2-4 hours a week.


i am living alone in a small apartment, i spent about 4 hours a week cleaning, and i haven't managed to vacuum in like 2 months, windows are covered in dust, dishes remain undone for the last week, there is bacteria growing on an old avacado in the fruit bowl.

maybe i just suck at cleaning ):

01 December, 2005 01:35  
Blogger CG said...

Sam...just open the windows and hope a strong breeze will blow in and clean away the dust for you. As for the sink...throw them away and next time use paper plates.

01 December, 2005 10:16  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the contrary, I really wished I had a maid! : ) I am tired of doing all the housework which is relatively considered “lower” work which can be replaced by the “maid”. I envy those who have maids so they can just sit and watch TV or go out socializing with friends while the maids prepare dinners and clean the toilets. I have close friends who hire two maids at home so both men and women can concentrate on expanding their horizons and earn higher income. Having maids is like having assistants or secretaries. As for racism issue, it is laughable. When you talk to those maids, you realize that they have college degrees, and probably have same abilities just like you. You just happen to be more fortunate, that is all. Who wants to be maids, secretaries, assistants when you can be professionals with higher income and more respect from the society? I know some women who are quite intelligent but their husbands abuse them mentally- those husbands tend to be insecure jerks whose only entitlement is being “men”. When you talk about injustice, this is a real injustice. When women have fewer opportunities to develop their ability, due to child birth and other social constraints, then there are going to be so many wasted talents.

I remember watching TV about Saudi Arabia and this college graduate is working in the factory putting labels on the merchandises because he had no other job offered. He told the reporter angrily about the unemployment rate for college gradates in Saudi Arabia-
“You know, these kinds of manual work should not be done by me, but by women”-how oppressive his comment was-

Those maids some of you mentioned being the “ entertainment” for the big boys‐I also know a women who divorced her husband because he was sleeping with their maid-well if the agreement were mutual, then I have nothing more to say. But if it were not the case, then those men who abuse maids are probably abusing their secretaries at work, too, just because they feel they can-because they have more power-and because of this, I strongly feel that there got to be more power for women. Now I hope those powerful women do not abuse less powerful women, though. Women have rivalry and jealousy toward each other, too-one women told me that men had always been nice to her-it was women in higher position who gave her difficult time when she was climbing up the ladder-so depends on the personality, power can always be abusive.

01 December, 2005 14:13  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interesting to read all the inputs about this maid thing. You would be surprised to learn that the CEO of one of the largest and successful chain of stores in the ME and GCC region was taken cared of by a Filipina nanny for 15 years!

The trick perhaps is to share to the maid/nanny your parenting skills because she's the one who stays with the kids longer for most of the their waking hours. Educate your maids if necessary. Teach her the culture you prefer and train her how to teach your kids as well. Just imagine paying for a maid's salary and getting an "extension" parent at the same time. If you treat the maid/nanny as an extended family, and let the kids see this, they will follow suit. This way, you can even channel the disciplining tasks through the nanny and still get the result you want. Give your nannies a life by listening to them and engaging them in meaningful conversations. Once your kids will take notice of the treatment you afforded the maid, they will learn that humility and kindness starts at home. You'll be surprised at how the kids will turn out without exerting so much effort yourself.

I should know. I had a maid in tow for 16 years. And that kind of arrangement taught me so much about working relationships. And definitely, it taught me a lot about trusting other people regardless of their station in life.

I've turned out well and fairly independent. While my parent's money sent me to the best schools, it's my nanny's humility which taught me to keep in touch with my heart. Always.

01 December, 2005 14:48  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On hindsight, the only ones who sees the real value of extended parenting are those who at one point was at the receiving end of it.

01 December, 2005 14:50  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon@ 01 December, 2005 14:48

Glad to know there are people like that. I think it is all about education-a good education on both sides. Everyday I learn to be a good person, someone who is good at work-at the same time respectable and likable. It is easy to pick up bad habits, especially when your surroundings influence you to behave in rather nasty ways toward each other so you can get ahead. I used to know people whose families came from authoritative positions in their countries and some of them nice and respectable, others less so. So I think it really all depend on family educations plus people you hung out with, whether your friends or colleagues.

01 December, 2005 17:16  
Blogger samuraisam said...

LOL cg. i'm not THAT hardcore of a bachelor.

01 December, 2005 17:48  
Blogger _sublime_ said...

I do find the idea of a maid as a professional personal assistant to be quite appealing and if you must have a maid then that's defenitely a positive way to rationalize the relationship (as opposed to considering them from a subservient/servile perspective), which I can respect.

I still find that it's extremely satisfying to do all of the icky jobs myself...when I look at my clean apartment I feel truly great sense of accomplishment for a wonderful moment or two before going about dirtying it up again over the next week.

Of course I do tend to reek heavily of Dettol on Fridays though :D

01 December, 2005 17:54  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done SD. You've brought up a common and disturbing phenomenon. The sadness evident on the faces of these maids is something seen more often in Saudi Arabia, where the local women are particularly backward and cruel.

In the UAE, it is likely that they are treated marginally better, although I would agree with someone who stated earlier that cruelty to domestic help was more likely with families from Levantine Arab countries or perhaps local families from other, more backward emirates.

The UAE needs to enact laws that would permit a family domestic help only if they have a written contract in with the helper. Families that choose to hire domestic help should have the infrastructure in place. This means room and board for the helper, scheduled times of work and contractual time-off. There should be no coercion in her(his)manner of behaviour or dress. This is unacceptable.

Someone earlier called maids 'harlots' for getting knocked up. Well, they are lonely young women. They would seek comfort like any human being. The fact that one's girlfriend can get knocked up does not make her a harlot. Then why are maids any different. For God's sake grow a heart in place of that lump of iron in your chest.

01 December, 2005 19:55  
Blogger * said...

Nannies, harlots, unwanted pregnancies and cookies ALL in one post.

02 December, 2005 00:15  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Phew! After reading all of these comments, the first thing that I need to do when I go home is to fall on the floor at my wife's feet and kiss them, again and again. :)

-Maidless, married, male with three kids

02 December, 2005 00:21  
Blogger secretdubai said...

fall on the floor at my wife's feet and kiss them

Even better - get her a foot massage!

02 December, 2005 00:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So I shall, so I shall.

02 December, 2005 00:29  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just wanted to point out that there are some very rude and spoilt Western expat children in Dubai as well so it doesn't really matter where you are from it is what kind of person you are ! I have seen Western Expats treat their maids like dirt! Stop being racist ! and come back down to plant earth. There are a lot of people who grew up with maids in the house and have reached high places in society . It hasn't got to do with the maid it all has to do with what type of parents you have , the way they treat their children and how they behave infront of their children !

02 December, 2005 22:18  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah this is always bewildering to me as well, I could barely take my eyes off a couple in Trader Vics here in Oman. The maid sauntered in after them - pushing the baby in the trolley. The couple occupied places at the other end of the table and the maid was left with the baby. They wooffed their fat faces, whilst the maid got bugger al. Then they left, 10 paces in front of the maid! bloody awful actually.

04 December, 2005 11:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just heard another maid story. There is a Sri Lankan girlie here in prison (oman), she's round about 23 years old, she has her 3 month old baby with her.

The baby is the product of a rape by her employer, she gets the prison treatment while he is probably bonking the new maid. Gross. No justice here for sure.

04 December, 2005 11:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With childcare you generally you get what you pay for. So how can you expect quality childcare for six, seven or however many hundred dirhams per month? It costs 30k sterling to employ a trained nanny in London, and guess what they don't clean toilets or do laundry.

10 December, 2005 22:38  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to correct about the statement made by “secretdubai”- “maid that has Indonesian or Malaysian appearance..” There is no Malaysian work as maid anywhere in the world not even in their own country. Malaysian hires Indonesians, Sri Lankan or Cambodians to work as maid in their country. Maids in Dubai especially those work for the locals are Indonesians, Filipinos Muslim, Indian Muslim or Sri Lankan Muslim. Indonesian don't speak "Bahasa Melayu" but "Bahasa Indonesia". I am an Indonesian have been living in Malaysia for many years and now I live in Dubai and hiring maids is my business. An advise to all who is interested to have a maid, first of all sponsor your own maid,don't hire those who advertise at the supermarkets. Treat her well and don't let her go out alone. Good luck.

19 December, 2005 17:55  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Thanks for that info Hetty! I guess most of the ones I see are Indonesian and Filipino then.

19 December, 2005 18:22  
Blogger Final_Take said...

I spent some time in Dubai/ Sharjah and always wondered about this. I belive the family values have more to do with the way kids behave with the maids. I was brought up to respect the maids at home, treat them as equals.

21 December, 2005 21:43  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i know more and more filipinos work as maids in other countries, choosing the most humbling job against being paid a meager salary as a professional back home, to support their families back home despite their college degrees. i am also aware that royal families have filipino maids. i have dealt with these royalties at one point in my life and told me beautiful stories of how it was growing up learning a different culture from their nanny. these people are the most down-to-earth people ive met, and it's not a surprise, coming from a well-bred family, it is a simple fact that growing up they saw how their family treat people in their own home. because of this, they turn out to be well-balanced individuals, it's like second nature for them to treat others as how they want to be treated despite how society dictates status. let me share an article i stumbled across on the net: i hope you find it interesting.

31 May, 2006 02:21  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Precious Lara Quigaman, the Miss Philippines who took home the 2005 Miss International crown, was asked during the final round the following question:

What do you say to the people of the world who have typecasted filipinos as nannies?

Precious Lara replied, “I take no offense on being typecasted as a nanny. But i do take offense that the educated people of the world have somehow denegrated the true sense and meaning of what a nanny is.”

Quigaman further elaborated: “Let me tell you what she is. She is someone who gives more than she takes. She is someone you trust to look after the very people most precious to you - your child, the elderly, yourself. She is the one who has made a living out of caring and loving other people.”

In closing, Precious ended her nanny speech with, “So to those who have typecasted us as nannies, thank you. It is a testament to the loving and caring culture of the Filipino people. And for that, I am forever proud and grateful of my roots and culture.”

That’s a winning answer, ladies and gentlemen!

31 May, 2006 02:25  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

because of my job, i do encounter a lot of indonesian maids in groups coming in and leaving the country. they are a happy bunch when they're in groups but when you see these "mute maids" at the malls following their employers like puppies, i strangely have the urge to always smile at them even if i know i won't get a smile back. i don't know if it means something to them, though.

31 May, 2006 02:32  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live alone, and that ensures a minimalistic lifestyle, which doesn't require a maid.However back at home in India, we need someone do tend to the house, a basic housekeeper who can wash clothes, clean the house and do utensils, and cook.That is not because we have a kid at home, but because we have a 81 yr old - my father. While wife is out to work at office and son is at school, father needs food for lunch, and doesn't always cook for himself. he also needs someone to talk to, as my mother is no on this earth now.He ends up befriending the maid! Usually the maids like this,but we had a wierd situation - last month she complained he was hovering around her most of the time,thus preventing her from working hard.Why do old people have this soft corner for maids? Why do they want to help the maids to the extent that they become so close that it can be looked upon as physicial intimacy of some sort, though I know my dad will not make a pass at the maid.He just tries to help.yet the maid didn't like that and complained, so we packed her off, anyway she was going away to get married soon, so we said a faster goodbye. Now we need a maid again.

13 December, 2008 17:40  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello,i read through comments,it seems not middle east forum cause otherwise some of them could be deleted.I totally agree that maids are treated like a slaves compare to europe,usa.Its very sad when they punished for actually nothing they have a hard destiny.I work as nanny in europe and i want work in dubai but for families who is form my culture habits.During my search i was attached with sexual offers,taking my passport away etc.So if i have less money then you it doesnt mean that you can humiliate me

18 May, 2011 23:47  

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