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13 Nov, Tuesday
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Shobhaa De visits Dubai; cash for squealing on illegals

THE Indian socialite and writer Shobhaa De recently visited Dubai to launch her new range of cocktail saris. The 60-year-old former model still looks fabulous. Known for her racy novels, gossip columns and life in high society, Shobhaa let slip in her interview with Gulf News today that her son lives in Dubai.

My colleague Surya told me she saw Shobhaa at the Dubai Polo Cup recently and said hello to her. “She was friendly and said hello back,” said Surya.

Meanwhile, Khaleej Times reports that the UAE Department of Naturalization and Residency is going to set-up a hotline for the public to report illegal workers. In return, informers will get cash rewards. I don’t think this is a good idea as it will encourage those who need money to possibly come forth and report people.

The report added that cleaners who work for schools and hospitals and who moonlight after work hours cleaning the homes of private citizens would be considered illegal and also reportable to the authorities. That is a rather mean thing to do as most cleaners are paid extremely low wages to begin with, so it is hardly surprising that many of them seek extra work on the side to supplement their meager earnings. Employers at hospitals and schools could put a stop to that by just paying the cleaners decent wages to begin with.

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It’s not really a surprise, but a story in Gulf News today says that many maids from the Philippines are accepting lower wages that the minimum $400 a month that the Philippine government has set for domestic helpers working abroad.

It’s pointed out that many employers have refused to pay the Dhs1,460 in monthly wages, offering only Dhs700 to Dhs900 a month. Many maids, desperate to have some income to support their families back home, are accepting the lower pay and end up signing new contracts here that are then legally registered with the UAE authorities.

The Philippine Embassy said that it is working with UAE authorities to curb this practice, but I seriously doubt they will be very successful. Maj. Gen. Mohammed Ahmad Al Merri, head of Dubai Naturalization and Residency Department, is quoted as saying: “Any salary amount can be registered as long as both the employer and the domestic helper agree upon it. We cannot intervene in this matter.”

As you might have guessed there is no minimum salary in the UAE. The same applies in Saudi Arabia. Don’t you just love capitalism?