Untrained female staff irk customers

Updated 19 September 2014
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Untrained female staff irk customers

Several customers have complained that the newly appointed female work force, which was hired in a bid to reduce dependency on expat male employees and to check a soaring 34 percent unemployment rate among Saudi women, lacks training and customer sales experience.
While many have commended the country’s nationalization program, customers have nonetheless complained of a less rewarding shopping experience thanks to lack of training.
Mashael Al-Ansary, a university student, said that the increase in the number of women working is a positive step for the Kingdom, but that these women just do not have the same work ethic as men.
“Workers from the Philippines have excellent customer service attitude,” she said. “Unfortunately, the quality of service has dropped since these women are not trained to handle clients.”
Dina Fathallah, an accounts executive, experienced a lack of assistance from female employees while shopping.
“Saleswomen are not familiar with the products and I can confidently say they aren’t trained or have a professional attitude, which is required in client servicing,” she said.
The expat community in the Kingdom also thinks that the language barrier plays a major role in women employees’ inability at providing quality service.
Khairia Iqbal, an English teacher, said: “Saleswomen must learn how to speak English to deal with expats because many of us do not speak Arabic, which leads to confusion when communicating with them.”
She also suggested that work efficiency should be stressed prior to hiring women.
“I prefer not to deal with female cashiers since many of them are not familiar with how cash registers function,” she said.
Sana Siddiqui, an IT professional, suggested that companies provide specific training to female employees and place emphasis on work ethic, customer service, communication skills and product information.
“The government can also provide free workshops for working women, which has been implemented in China through providing classes for employees, especially those being hired abroad.”
Customers also find it difficult to distinguish between customers and saleswomen since they all wear black abayas.
“Employees should wear a recognizable headscarf with a big nametag in order for us to be able to spot them easily,” Siddiqui said.


Meet Saudi Arabia’s artist to the kings

Saudi painter Hisham Binjabi’s stunning creations have become the choice of kings. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 5 min 39 sec ago
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Meet Saudi Arabia’s artist to the kings

  • From the age of three, Hisham Binjabi has never lost his appetite for art

JEDDAH: When it comes to royal connections, Saudi painter Hisham Binjabi can truly claim to have made it an art form.

During a lifetime at the easel, the unassuming Jeddah-based artist’s stunning creations have become the choice of kings.

And it all began at the age of just 14, when Binjabi painted a portrait of King Faisal and ended up presenting it in person to the late king of Saudi Arabia.

Further commissions were to follow, which resulted in Binjabi producing works of art not only for the Saudi royal family, but royalty in other countries too.

Today he owns two galleries in Jeddah from where he exhibits artwork and sculptures from around the world. 

Binjabi revealed his incredible story to Arab News while at work painting on canvas at a recent Jeddah book fair.

Hisham Binjabi made works of art not only for the Saudi royal family, but royalty in other countries too. (Photos/Supplied)

From the age of three, when he painted the walls of his family home in black, Binjabi has never lost his appetite for art. His talent was recognized at school where he was known as the “boy who paints,” and although he chose to major in science, a teacher spotted his artistic skills and taught him the basics of mixing colors.

Binjabi said: “After that I started to practice, and whenever I didn’t need to attend a class, I would escape to the painting room. As I became stronger with the use of colors, my teacher suggested I pick a subject to paint and I chose to do a portrait of King Faisal.”

After framing his picture, Binjabi was spotted carrying his creation down the street by the then-minister of education, who was so taken by it that he invited the teenager to present it to King Faisal himself. 

On the right track

The young artist continued to paint in his home and later studied English literature at King Abdul Aziz University, where again his talents were spotted. 

The dean of the university asked him to produce a painting to display in a tent, and this time the subject was to be camels.

During a visit to the campus, the then-King Khaled saw the painting and asked to meet the artist. “Before I knew it, I was standing in front of King Khaled,” said Binjabi. 

“The king asked me why I had painted camels, and I told him that camels were the friends of Bedouin people.”

The king invited Binjabi to go to Riyadh and attend the first ever Janadriyah Festival, and from then on his works became highly prized by royalty. The then-Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz asked him to produce a painting of his guests, a French prince and Sheikh Zayed of the UAE, watching camels through binoculars. 

As a result, Binjabi was invited to stay at Sheikh Zayed’s palace in Abu Dhabi, where he spent four months painting a family portrait for the leader.

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was to be another of Binjabi’s distinguished clients, and even while studying for a Master’s degree in Lebanon, he painted for the king of Lebanon.

He said: “It did get overwhelming. I never asked to be associated with royalty, it just happened. Something in my heart kept pushing me along and telling me I was on the right track.”

Today he still represents the Kingdom in many different countries. 

“My life is full of stories about art which I find inspirational,” Binjabi added.