Saleswomen to be allowed to work at jewelry shops

Updated 22 October 2012

Saleswomen to be allowed to work at jewelry shops

Saudi society has been divided over pros and cons of a recent decision by the Ministry of Labor to allow Saudi women to work as sales clerks in gold and jewelry shops. Some say there is not enough security against robbery. Others say it will help decrease the number of unemployed Saudi women.
Arab News visited gold shops in Jeddah and asked shoppers and shopkeepers about this decision. Yemeni sales clerk Ali Awad said there is no way a woman would survive working in these shops. “These kind of shops has long working hours, sometimes we work from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. one shift with only prayer-time breaks. Women need to take care of their children and cook for their husbands, not work long hours selling and buying gold,” he said. “What about security? What if a thief comes to the shop and steals something or even threatens her with a knife? What would she do? I think this will never work,” he added.
In the same shop there was a female shopper, Dania Hejazi. She said technology and security men at the gate can help women succeed in this job. “Every shop now has security cameras and you can always see security men walking about shopping centers so there is no need to worry,” she said. “I think they should work in shifts to avoid long hours. No one, man or woman, should work more than eight hours a day. It is inhumane. Men also should have time to spend with their wife and children,” she added.
Most gold shop owners in Jeddah work in their shop and employ family members as sales clerks. “I can never trust anyone with my business, I own two gold shops and I’m always around to make sure no one is stealing or forging anything,” said Abu Mesaed. “I have recently employed my nephew in one of the shops because I couldn’t operate two shops at the same time. I still check on him every day to make sure all is going smooth,” he added.
“I don’t believe I can trust women with my own business. Yhey have soft hearts and might give an unnecessary discount to their friends of other female shoppers. I believe this job is made for men only as they are good at math and can buy and sell gold without worrying about the tenderness of female shoppers,” said Abu Mesaed.
“This is another step forward to empower Saudi women,” said businesswoman Maha Terad. “There is nothing wrong with women working in jewelry and gold shops. Some already work at Fetihi and Mouawad jewelry boutiques, so where is the harm in working in gold shops as well,” she wondered. “Saudi men always oppose change. They did the same with female cashiers and feminizing lingerie shops. The way I see this is that men will just get used to it if the media ignored them and if we proceeded with what the ministry decided,” she added.
According to Al-Eqtisadiah daily, Kareem Al-Anzi, the chief of the National Committee for Precious Metals and Gems at the Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce, said that the work nature at the gold workshops and factories is inappropriate for women. They can only be hired for installing stones, design and graphics because of their elegant taste. They can also work in production and processing stages but not at sales outlets. “The committee will do everything possible to address this decision because we think it will not solve any problems but will create other problems,” he said. “There is no country in the world that limits gold trading or focuses on specific sectors to address the problem of women unemployment,” he added. Al-Anz said that looking at it from a practical and social aspect, this feminizing decision would have negative repercussions on the female employees and the gold shops. “The female body structure is no match for potential risks such as robberies and theft as experienced by all gold shops in the world,” he said.

Saudis recall history’s greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

Updated 20 July 2019

Saudis recall history’s greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

  • The TV images beamed from 320,000km away in space left viewers astounded but happy
  • The TV coverage influenced thinking and attitudes in the Kingdom just like everywhere else

DUBAI: It was a sleepy afternoon in Saudi Arabia, just days before the end of the school vacation, and Saudis had their eyes glued to their TV sets as they waited for live coverage of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Before July 20, 1969, the idea of a human walking on the moon was the stuff of science fiction. However, almost overnight, sci-fi had turned into reality with a live broadcast showing American astronaut Neil Armstrong’s dramatic descent onto the empty lunar landscape.

Between science fiction and science fact, the live coverage of the lunar landing amounted to an unusual fusion of news and entertainment.

Saudi TV technicians bring the first live images of Neil Armstrong’s 1969 moon landing to
viewers around the Kingdom. (Supplied photo)

The historic images — beamed back to Earth more than 320,000 km away — left Saudi viewers astounded and confused, but mostly elated to be witnessing such an epoch-making event.

The event was covered live on television and radio stations in Saudi Arabia. Most Saudis and residents living in the Kingdom watched it on Saudi channels 1 and 3, owned by Saudi Aramco.

Hessah Al-Sobaie, a housewife from Al-Dawadmi, recalled watching the moon landing from her grandparents’ backyard as an 11-year-old.

“It felt weird watching a human walk on the moon,” she told Arab News. “I remember the endless questions I asked as a child.”

While most people were aware that going to the moon was risky, many Saudis believed that such a journey was impossible and all but unthinkable.


1. NASA’s Apollo 11 mission control room in Houston has been restored to its 1969 condition and regular tours
will be conducted by the Johnson Space Center.

2. NASA ‘Science Live’ will have a special edition on July 23 on board the aircraft carrier that recovered the Apollo 11 capsule.

3. A summer moon festival and family street fair will be held in Wapakoneta, Ohio, from July 17-20.

4. Downtown Houston’s Discovery green will host a free public screening of the ‘Apollo 11’ documentary, with an appearance by NASA astronaut Steve Bowen.

5. Amateur radio operators will host a series of events on July 20-21.

6. The US Space and Rocket Center is staging a special ‘Rockets on Parade’ exhibition.

The Apollo 11 mission prompted discussions across the Middle East over the reality of what people saw on their TV screens. Some Saudi scholars found it hard to believe their eyes.

“I watched it, and I clearly remember each and every detail of the coverage,” Hayat Al-Bokhari, 68, a retired school principal in Jeddah, said.

“My father, Abdul, was 56 at the time. He said the landing was faked. He couldn’t believe or accept that a human could go to the moon.”

Khaled Almasud, 70, a retired university lecturer, was a student in the US state of Oregon at the time of the mission. “Americans were stunned and over the moon, happy with their national achievement. But many Saudis like me were either in denial or insisting on more proof.”

Since the beginning of the 1960s, King Faisal had been rapidly transforming Saudi Arabia, inviting foreign-trained experts to help build a modern country with world-class infrastructure.

Billie Tanner, now 90, lived in the Kingdom for many years with her husband, Larry, and their two children, Laurie and Scott, aged six and four. The family had just arrived in Saudi Arabia and headed to the Aramco compound in Ras Tanura in the Eastern Province.

A screengrab of video of the first lunar landing beamed toward Earth and shown on television worldwide. 

“We were going through a culture shock,” she told Arab News. “I wasn’t thinking of the moon landing, but we heard about it on the news from Dhahran.

“My kids tried to see the astronauts on the moon with their binoculars and said they could see them walking around.”

The Apollo 11 spaceflight has become a milestone in the annals of human history and science. Since 1969 space exploration has greatly expanded man’s knowledge of the universe, far beyond Earth’s limits.

The captivating live coverage of the moon landing inspired millions of people around the world, profoundly influencing their thinking and attitudes.

The people of Saudi Arabia were no exception.