The Middle East has seen a surge in demand for British-trained butlers and Mary Poppins-style governesses, with some staff earning up to US$240,000 a year, a London-based agency has revealed.
London’s Bespoke Bureau British Butler and Housekeeper Academy said it placed 430 butlers so far this year around the world, a 100 percent increase in last year and four times as many as in 2010.
“Demand is growing in the Middle East at a similar ratio but the demand is bigger than the supply. It is a fine balance as we don’t want to just churn out numbers,” Sara Vestin Rahmani, director of the agency, said in an interview with Arabian Business.
“It is a niche market but it is booming so we have seen a lot of interest… It is a butler and domestic staff agency for celebrities, high net worth individuals and royalty,” she added, but declined to reveal any of the names on her client list.
Training takes place at The Grosvenor Hotel in London’s Victoria and at Hatfield House, the 400 year-old ancestral home of the Marquess of Salisbury. It includes valeting, silver service, cooking and flower arranging.
The agency said it has also seen demand from five-star hotels in the region. “The hotels come to us and look for us to train their household staff or want their staff to be British butler trained. That is the sort of thing I do in Dubai and Abu Dhabi,” said Rahmani, who had just returned from a visit to Dubai, where she spends nearly half the year.
“There is huge demand and we have a waiting list from private houses and hotels in the Emirates and Saudi Arabia,” she added.
Training courses for staff start from £800 (US$1,282) for two days and up to £6,000 (US$9,619) for a six-week course.
In addition to butlers and housekeeping staff, the agency also places governesses in Arab homes to educate and discipline children.
“In the Middle East we have been placing Mary Poppins-style nannies for many years and we have seen a similar market, it is the people who want their children to speak a certain way and be educated a certain way,” Rahmani said.
The agency’s top earning butler is based in Saudi Arabia, where he earns £150,000 (US$240,487), she revealed.
“It is a trade where you can earn a lot of money without being very academic and there is not many professions in the world you can earn that kind of money without a [third-level education].
“These people are very service minded and well mannered. People we place overseas earn around £65,000 and the top end at £100,000. We have people who earn more than that but that is unique.”
The agency has also introduced one-on-one etiquette training for Arab businessmen, “so when he travels to Europe he knows how to dine and greet people,” Rahmani said.