The ambiguous economic situation of expat women in Saudi Arabia
Many female expats have voiced concern over ambiguous regulations regarding their sponsorship transfer.
Rania Al-Homsi, an engineer, said that the decision to legalize the status of female dependents is unclear. “While authorities and our employers are stressing the need to transfer our sponsorships, we are discovering that such a step is the beginning of a difficult process.”
Rania had transferred her sponsorship from her father to the office where she works, but due to personal circumstances, was forced to leave work and stay at home. “I am unable to return under the sponsorship of my father although my office has said it would give me a waiver to transfer.”
A source confirmed to Arab News that the generalization of corrective measures was not in favor of female dependents and that such decisions remain unclear.
It has put many dependents at the mercy of their sponsors, who are primarily concerned with their work interests.
Rania said: “I was working as an accountant after transferring my sponsorship onto the company. I was asked to undertake the job of another female employee who was unable to transfer her sponsorship.” Rania was promised overtime but was never paid.
Bandar Al-Harthy, a lawyer, told Arab News that the issue of changing sponsorship back to the original sponsors needs further clarification. “There are adopted decisions that need to be corrected and addressed, especially decisions related to female dependents.”
A spokesman at the Department of Labor explained that the decision applies only to male dependents and does not include women. The decision indicates that if a married female dependent wishes to work, she must transfer her sponsorship to her employer but does not clearly state a course of action should a female employee wish to go back under her father's sponsorship, he said.