Citing lack of job choices, some women college grads wash cadavers

Updated 09 May 2015
0

Citing lack of job choices, some women college grads wash cadavers

Several unemployed Saudi women have been forced to work as washers of dead bodies in hospitals and other centers.
Salwa Al-Qahtani, director of the women’s section at Asir Municipality, said most of the women coming forward to take up the work of body washing have an intermediate school certificate or university degree. While some of them take the task as a charitable service, others are driven to the job by poverty. The municipality supervises washing establishments in the province.

There are a number of body-washing centers that work as charitable endowments where body washers are employed adhering to certain procedures with licenses issued by competent authorities or courts.

Women can become qualified for the work by attending a training program on ritual cadaver washing organized by the Dawa centers of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Call and Guidance and obtain a certificate to show that they have completed training.
A supervisor at a body-washing unit, Maodi Abdul Aziz, 29, said “I have a bachelor’s degree in Islamic studies, but the difficulty in getting a job in my field forced me to look for a job in the washing center as many university graduates do, especially if your are from a poor background.”
She said the monthly salary she receives is SR2,000 including a transport allowance even though her responsibility is huge. She decries the social attitude of looking at those who practice this job as inferior creatures.
Fatima Abdul Salam,35, holder of a bachelor’s degree in Arabic language from King Abdul Aziz University, is unhappy about her present job of washing cadavers. She said one of the major problems she faces is the negative attitude of her neighbors and other members of society about her profession.
She said she unsuccessfully waited for nine years after graduation to get a good government job with the help of the Civil Service Ministry but eventually lost hope and turned to this job which most people hate to take up.
Suad Ali, 36, who has a bachelor’s degree in special education from King Abdul Aziz University and is now working as washer of bodies, said: “I am divorced and have been working in this field for four years. I looked for a good job for many years and in the meantime I was divorced. I had to feed my three children who are in my custody and I did not have any other income. This is the only work available for me and I have no other choice but to accept it because of my poor circumstances.”
Another cadaver washer, Umm Taif, said washing the dead requires patience and courage to bear the sight of mutilated bodies, especially those who died in traffic accidents. “On one occasion, a woman who died in a traffic accident, with some body parts missing, was brought to us. I patiently washed and shrouded it,” she said.


Saudi Arabia ‘racing into the future’ with Formula E

Updated 15 December 2018
0

Saudi Arabia ‘racing into the future’ with Formula E

  • A first for Saudi Arabia and the region, the event’s magnitude reflects the Kingdom’s goal of hosting major events and promoting them domestically and globally
  • “This is unprecedented and fabulous,” one concert-goer said. Another said: “I can’t believe I’m in Saudi Arabia.” 

RIYADH: Formula E is one for the books. Attracting fans from all over the world, the mega event — held in the historic Saudi town of Ad Diriyah, a UNESCO World Heritage Site — is set to revolutionize motorsports by using only electric race cars. 

Officially known as the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, the race expects to draw 40,000 attendees, with access not only to the race but also to the Kingdom’s largest ever festival for music, entertainment and cultural activities.

A first for Saudi Arabia and the region, the event’s magnitude reflects the Kingdom’s goal of hosting major events and promoting them domestically and globally.

A milestone was marked as Bandar Alesayi and Ahmed bin Khanen became the first Saudi I-Pace eTrophy racers, sponsored by the General Sports Authority (GSA). 

Both drivers predict increased grassroots support in the Kingdom for youths to train in carting and race-car driving.  

At 1.76 miles long with 21 corners, the track is somewhat tricky for first-time Formula E drivers.

“The system is like Mario Bros when they get the little star and go faster,” said Formula E founder and CEO Alejandro Agag. The new electric circuit in Saudi Arabia has been hailed as one of the best Formula E tracks.

The three-day event is hosting some of the world’s top singers, including Jason Derulo, Enrique Iglesias, Amr Diab, Black Eyed Peas, David Guetta and One Republic, along with DJ EJ. 

“This is unprecedented and fabulous,” one concert-goer said. Another said: “I can’t believe I’m in Saudi Arabia.” 

Outside the venue, Al-Bujairy, one of Ad Diriyah’s historic areas, hosts high-end restaurants, cafes and local designer outlets overlooking the historic district of At-Turaif, which was once home to the Saudi royal family and has newly opened for visitors.

Another area of interest is the Family Zone, with many events and activities to entertain all age groups. Men, women and children are given different driving experiences.

In Ad Diriyah’s Formula E, only one car is allowed per driver instead of two, making pit stops more crucial in terms of timing.  

“Attack mode” gives cars a temporary power boost from 200 to 225 kilowatts, equivalent to 268-302 horsepower. Drivers need to move to a certain area on the track to activate this mode.

“Saudi Arabia is racing into the future with Formula E, as we open the Kingdom to the world in a transformation that’s being supercharged by the Vision 2030 plan, driven forward by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal Al-Saud, vice-chair of the Saudi Arabian General Sports Authority, told Arab News.