Efforts for female-only staff in Saudi women’s wear shops welcomed

Saudi women enter a shop for women and families only in Jeddah. (AFP file photo)
Updated 16 September 2017

Efforts for female-only staff in Saudi women’s wear shops welcomed

RIYADH: The Ministry of Labor and Social Development said that the plan to implement third phase of its decision on feminizing and nationalizing shops selling women’s accessories at indoor malls, outdoor shopping centers and independent stores will start Oct. 21; the decision has been welcomed by women across the country.
Emphasizing that this third phase was to begin last Oct. 2, the delay gave both the establishments and employers the opportunity to prepare female-friendly workplaces in a better way.
The decision comes within the efforts and the commitment of the ministry to ensure proper provision of suitable and stable work environments, and expand work fields for Saudi women in the private sector, thus contributing to productivity and motivation in the workplace.
It further said that the third phase follows the earlier implemented first and second phases targeting stores selling women’s accessories such as perfumes, shoes, socks, purses, ready-to-wear clothes and women’s fabrics, in addition to department stores selling only women’s garments and other accessories.
Moreover, the decision also covers independent stores that sell gowns, wedding dresses, abayas (cloaks), jalabiyas (traditional dresses), mother-care products and other related accessories, as well as pharmacies with sections that sell cosmetics.
Welcoming the move Hayat Al-Maskeen, a public relations manager in Riyadh told Arab News Wednesday: “Feminizing these women-only stores in the Kingdom is a great step and I support it for creating opportunities for Saudi women.”
She, however, underscored that proper training should be provided to each employee for efficient customer service.
“We go shopping and pay for purchased accessories expecting good service in return, but sometimes girls in the sales segment lack the required skills; fulfilling that will make the decision even better,” she pointed out.
Iffat, a shopper at a city mall, said: “We welcome the move; it will make shopping more women friendly, and dealing with women staff is a better idea.”


Saudi Hajj ministry investigating how gift to pilgrims was wrongly labelled ‘anthrax’ 

Updated 18 August 2019

Saudi Hajj ministry investigating how gift to pilgrims was wrongly labelled ‘anthrax’ 

  • The Arabic word “jamarat" was inaccurately translated to “anthrax",  a dangerous infectious disease
  • Citing possible repercussions of the mistranslation, scholars want a probe to pinpoint responsibility

RIYADH: The Hajj and Umrah Ministry is investigating the inaccurate translation of the word “jamarat” into “anthrax,” which led to Sheikh Yusuf Estes making a video warning pilgrims of the mistake and its possible repercussions.

The translation concerned a bag that was a gift to pilgrims, containing small pebbles to use for the “stoning of the devil” upon their return from Muzdalifah. The bag had the correct original Arabic description, which roughly translates as “jamarat pebble bag,” whereas the English version of “jamarat” was translated into “anthrax,” a dangerous infectious disease.

According to SPA, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah was notified and opened an investigation with the contractor and translator on August 10, before handing them to authorities to take the necessary disciplinary action.

“Anthrax, where did they get that? They get it from Google, it’s not Google’s fault. Google allows people to tell the meaning of the different languages of words,” Sheikh Yusuf said in the video.

Google Translate, the free multilingual machine translator, relies on comparing large quantities of content between pairs of languages to establish patterns and, in most cases, determine the probability that certain words in one language will correspond with a set of words in another. 

Putting Google Translate to the test, Arab News used the platform to translate a name of a type of fish known in the region as “sha’oor” from Arabic to English. The scientific term for the fish is Lethrinus nebulosus, a type of emperor fish most commonly known as the green snapper or sand snapper.  

Google Translate’s translation was “thickness of feeling.”

Though it yields imperfect results, the service can be used at a pinch, though real human translators rather than artificial intelligence are far more likely to lead to more accurate translations.  

Speaking to Arab News, Dr. Gisele Riachy, director of the Center for Languages and Translation at the Lebanese University in Beirut, explained how the mistranslation of “jamarat” could have happened.

“We have two possibilities, it was either translated by Google Translate or the translator was provided with a single sentence and therefore didn’t understand the meaning of “jamarat,” she said.

“The translator may have not taken into consideration the general context of the word, which has certain religious connotations, therefore it should have been borrowed, translated by the “Stoning of the Devil” or even left as it is.”

Dr. Riachy said that the word anthrax cannot be translated without an accompanying adjective for a better explanation of the term.

“What surprised me is that when translating the word “jamarat” from Arabic to English, the word should have been accompanied with the adjective “khabitha,” or malignant in Arabic, for it to be translated to “anthrax” in English. That is why I am confused and I do not think Google Translate would have translated it into “anthrax” if the Arabic version didn’t include the word “khabitha.”

Sheikh Yusuf Estes’ video was intended for those who would like to take the small bags home as a souvenir or gift, sending a message that the mistranslation could cause the traveler trouble with customs in their own countries.