Three years ago there was a Saudi princess (Deema Turki al-Saud) that unleashed her lawyers on me her in Finland, for publishing a former employee’s birds eye account of what it was like for her to work in her service. Beatings, bitings and ill-mannered behaviour was the order of the day. This following article is amazingly similar.
Vile abuse, vicious beatings and constant intimidation from the religious police: Shocking extent of cruel treatment meted out to expat staff by Saudi royals revealed
- Cay Garcia, from Cape Town, worked as a butler for a Saudi princess
- Was disgusted by extent of the abuse, mostly directed at Filipino maids
- Eventually left after confronting her employer about treatment of staff
- Incidents included beatings and rooms being trashed as punishment
- Also saw one maid being forced to tip a bucket of ice over her own head
- Expats cannot leave without being given an exit visa by their employer
- As a result, maids with whom Cay worked are trapped in Riyadh
- Cay has chosen not to give the name of her blue-blooded employer
But less than four months after she arrived in the Saudi capital Riyadh, she was hustled on to a plane and thrown out of the country – all because she stood up to her abusive employer.
Now back in South Africa, she has written a book laying bare her experiences at the hands of the Saudi royals – and sheds light on a side of Riyadh life that is rarely seen by outsiders.
Poorly treated: Cay saw the princess’ Filipino servants being cruelly treated and subjected to vicious beatings
In charge: King Abdullah is the current ruler of Saudi Arabia and ascended to the Saudi throne in 2005
‘Life in Riyadh for a woman is harsh,’ she explains. ‘A single woman cannot even go for a coffee on her own – it’s deemed immoral.
‘You are allowed to walk around a mall but walking around one’s neighbourhood for exercise is heavily frowned upon.’
Difficult though living up to Saudi Arabia’s strict moral code proved – a code enforced by religious police known as the Mutawa – her difficulties were nothing compared to what she would experience within the palace itself.
There, as the head of a team of five staff members including two Malawians and two Filipinos, she was forced to watch as the princess, who Cay has decided not to identify, doled out harsh punishments that included beatings and having their rooms turned upside down, in addition to dealing with the capricious moods of the princess herself.
‘In the beginning the princess seemed to be on her best behaviour although the abuse escalated over time,’ she remembers.
‘It was difficult, at times, not to retaliate when the princess, who was half my age, was screaming at me and telling me what an imbecile I was because she didn’t approve of the shoes I was wearing.’