Bahrain to allow expat wives to work
Manama, February 8, 2009
Desperate expatriate housewives may soon be allowed to work in more professions in Bahrain.
They are currently only allowed to work as teachers, medical professionals and in top managerial positions in the banking sector.
But many say rising prices are forcing them to seek work - some illegally - in order to keep their families together.
Our sister newspaper Gulf Daily News had reported last September that some housewives end up as illegal residents after cancelling their visas to apply for work permits with prospective employers.
The Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) had said then that a committee had been set up to review the situation.
However, it still has not begun offering work visas in other professions to expatriate women who entered Bahrain on housewife visas, said LMRA chief executive Ali Radhi.
He said the authority was only continuing what has been the practice for several years.
'According to the existing system, if an expatriate woman is in Bahrain on a housewife visa, she will not be entitled to a work visa,' said Mr Radhi.
'There are, however, exceptions for those who are schoolteachers, medical professionals and high-ranking officials in banks.'
'This system has been followed even before the LMRA began issuing work permits and we have not changed it.'
'The committee set up to review this practice is expected to reach a decision within three months.'
Mr Radhi had said earlier that if a woman, who has been staying in Bahrain on a housewife status, cancels her visa and goes back to her country in order to come back on a work visa, the case will be treated as a fresh one.
However, there is still no guarantee that she will receive the permit because various ministries are involved in the decision, depending on the job.
An Indian mother-of-two told the GDN that she had already cancelled her housewife visa, for a bank to hire her legally - and ended up becoming an illegal resident.
She received an offer from a bank to work as their sales executive and was asked to cancel her visa so that the bank could apply for the work permit.
However, a couple of days towards the end of the one-month grace period allotted after cancelling the visa, the application for the job visa was rejected, making her an illegal resident.
Another Indian housewife, whose application for a job visa was also rejected, said that unless the LMRA allowed housewives to work, many would not be able to continue staying in Bahrain together as a family, as one person's salary is not enough to maintain a family here with rising costs of living.
A British housewife, who worked as an architect in Dubai before moving to Bahrain after getting married, took a break from work to care for her child.
However, she is now unable to get a work permit and has to continue as a housewife as long as she stays in Bahrain - unless the rules are changed.-TradeArabia News Service
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