I received some Life in Saudi inquiries. I’ll post the email  and answer within the text in case others have similar queries:

 I was reading today in the papers that the Committee
of Demanders of Women’s Rights to Drive Cars intends
to petition King Abdullah sometime soon over the right
to drive. Good for them!

Some people say the women shouldn’t drive because it
might lead to the sin of mixing with men. Here’s my
question: Isn’t driving in a car with a driver WHO IS
MAHRAM, MIXING WITH A MAN??!!! How does the government
justify it being okay to get into a small, enclosed
space with a man who is not your mahram? I don’t have
a problem understanding the whole maid issue (unlike
certain people who respond to your blogs), but I can’t
for the life of me understand the driver thing.

Islamically a man and a woman are not allowed to be alone. I can not comment on even if this is justified by the Government or just something that is done by the desperate or disobedient. I use a driver, but am always with either my entire family, my nephew, or my husband (in other words I don’t even go alone with my children and a driver, it is ALWAYS with my children and someone else). Last year I use to attend a women’s only gym, but I have not gone in over a year since my last maid left (see this is another reason my health is suffering..lol). One of the benefits of having a maid is that she can be used as a companion when using a driver. Now that I have a new maid the children and I can start back going to the gym and the girls can start their horse riding lessons after Ramadan insha’Allah.

How do you get a driver? Is he “on call” like a
doctor? Is he ordered from some agency like a taxi? Is
he considered part of the family’s hired help, like
maid? Do they get paid by the hour? Is it expensive?
Do you have the same driver all the time? Do they wait
around while you shop or do you call another driver to
take you back home?

Drivers are brought in the country, like maids. They are imported laborers and you go to a labor agency to acquire one. They must have a Khafeel (sponsor). They get paid anywhere from 400SR -1500Sr ($100-$350 roughly) a month. The driver we use, is not under our sponsorship. One of our neighbors is his Khafeel and we pay him by the trip. He usually stays with us as long as we need him. As a matter of fact he took us to an iftar over an hour away yesterday and we did not return until after taraweeh prayers (10pm). That trip  cost us 150SR, if we used a taxi it would cost us 150sr each way and he would not stay with us. This driver stayed with my husband and the brothers and went out to a Chinese restaurant for their iftar. We treat him like our brother in Islam.

We also have a driver for my daughter. The alternative is that she takes the school bus. The school bus does not come door to door, you must wait outside at the corner. We pay her driver 100sr (almost $40) a month. He drives a 15 passenger van so she is not alone with him. He is the assistant muaadthen at our masjid and we consider him trustworthy and he is an older man.

Is there a problem with drivers
having affairs with the women they drive?

 I’ve heard rumors. The same rumors you hear about the maids and the men of the house you will hear about the drivers and the women of the house. Many are just that – rumors, but if there is any truth to them then know that it is the exception and not the rule. I mean, I was once told by someone that a group of college girls repeatedly raped the janitor of their school until he had a heart attack and died! She claims that nobody knew what happened, so I asked her how did she know?

How does
this whole thing work?

Simple, you are only allowed a driver if the woman works or if their are many children who need rides to school. Even if you try to get other women to ride with you somebody has to be the first and last and alone in the car with the driver. It’s a huge fitnah and one hard to understand let alone explain.

What is your take on the whole “Maid Mayhem”?

My take is, for each it’s own. I was asked if I really needed a maid, and also compared to women with more children who do everything with no maid. Good for them, I honestly envy them! Masha’Allah. I would love to do it all. Almost every parenting book I have tells the mother not to be afraid to get help. Even my readers suggested in another thread that I have some alone time and do me, which will never happen so at least I can get some help and have more quality time with the family with less tired and frustration from me. Well maybe they did not mean get a live in maid, but that is what I got. I would much rather had someone come occasionally, but in most cases that is illegal.

My maid is now out of the hospital. She refused the surgery. It is also Ramadan, so I have given her a very light workload. She basically maintains the kitchen, puts the laundry away, and is given one other chore a day. (She cleaned the windows one day, the walls the next day, and today HELPED me clean out the wardrobes and put away old clothes). It took her over 2 hours just to wash the sun-room windows the other day and they have not been cleaned in a year since my last maid left. I clean up the rest of my house. The family area, sitting room, my bedroom and bathroom are my responsibility. She is hear to help me with the other things that I usually neglect (mirrors, polishing the furniture, ironing, etc.). You can not imagine the burden that has been lifted. I was actually getting depressed not being able to do it all. I did not have my first child until I was almost 30 years old and was a neat freak and kept a clean home. Small things like finger smudges and the balls of clay that are still stuck to my ceiling can push me close to the edge…lol! 

Also, Quran school starts back for me and now that I have the maid that not only frees me up to study more but it allows me to send Adam to the nursery. Last year I kept him with me in the classroom and I learned absolutely nothing and so that I did not disturb the other students I spent most of the time outside of the class with him. We don’t send our children in the nursery unless we have our own maid to look after them. Otherwise it’s a bunch of kids and two attendants and these kids are notorious for biting!

So, though I would love to be one of those superwomen, I acknowledge that I am not. The way things are set up here is that it is cheaper and more practical to bring in a live in maid.

Read this.