Saudi woman fruit seller creates new market

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Standing next to her stall in Jeddah’s Al-Shatea district, Al-Otaibi said ‘work is allowed for both men and women and any noble field is something we would all be proud to work in.’ (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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AN photo by Huda Bashatah
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Updated 19 July 2020

Saudi woman fruit seller creates new market

  • Um Sultan Al-Otaibi, one of a few, if not the only, female fruit seller in the Kingdom, entered the male-dominated field after deciding it ‘desperately needs a woman’s touch.’

JEDDAH: Social reforms in the Kingdom are bearing fruit day by day as more women find job opportunities in fields once thought to be exclusively male domains.
In recent months, several women have made headlines by working in groundbreaking industries.
Um Sultan Al-Otaibi, one of a few, if not the only, female fruit seller in the Kingdom, entered the male-dominated field after deciding it “desperately needs a woman’s touch.”
Standing proudly next to her fruit stall in Al-Shatea district, north of Jeddah, she told Arab news: “Work is allowed for both men and women and any successful noble field is something we would all be proud to work in.”
She experimented in projects without success, but learned from her mistakes. “Food projects have been overly consumed, and so have fashion projects and decorations. Only fruit and vegetable selling wasn’t overly consumed,” she said.
She added that women are more cautious when shopping for fruit and vegetables.
“The person who knows how to pick out the best fruit and vegetables most in the world is a woman,” she said. “The municipality gave me a space for my kiosk and I pick out the fruit and vegetables myself, always choosing the finest produce that will make customers happy,” she added.
“When I first started, I said to myself that it’s another experiment. If it worked out, great. If it didn’t, that’s OK,” she said.
Al-Otaibi said the first customers who visited her stall found it strange that a woman would help them shop. But she said her job became easier and more comfortable with time — some visitors grew confident in her abilities and became regular customers.
On the difficulties of working in the market, Al-Otaibi said: “It’s already difficult for men, you can imagine how difficult it is for women. “The first challenge is the timing — you have to be here at your kiosk by dawn. Second, you’re dealing with a group of men and you’re the only woman in the field, and you have to work on your own.
“You take your own car and drive around shops to pick out the highest quality fruit and vegetables. It was difficult at first, but I know how to manage my time now and finish my tasks in record time.”
The fruit seller credits social reforms for enabling her to work in the industry.
“Our leadership enabled women to work in any field they wanted. It gave me the courage to pursue this. I know I’m doing the right thing. Women should be included in all fields,” she said.
While Al-Otaibi is paving the way for women, she also has some much-needed advice.
“My suggestion for other women who want to run their own kiosk is to forget all the difficulties, because they will find difficulties in every other field. People will eventually get used to it,” she said.
“It is a social step forward to diversify the market,” she added.


Diriyah Authority marks Saudi National Day with colorful events

Updated 3 min 1 sec ago

Diriyah Authority marks Saudi National Day with colorful events

  • Diriyah Gate will represent a huge leap in KSA’s position on the regional, international cultural map, says CEO

RIYADH: The Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA) marked the 90th Saudi National Day on Wednesday by organizing a wide range of interactive cultural, artistic, awareness-raising, and historical activities that were enjoyed by Diriyah’s residents.

DGDA CEO Jerry Inzerillo and his staff conveyed their congratulations to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as well as to the royal family and the Saudi people.

“The celebration of Saudi National Day this year coincides with the Saudi presidency of the G20 summit, which includes the most important and powerful economic countries in the world,” said Inzerillo. He said it affirmed the Kingdom’s leading global role with its economic potential, natural resources, human capabilities, and ancient historical and cultural legacies.

He said that Saudi Arabia’s legacy is steeped in a special heritage and is as important as its economic position in granting the Kingdom a leading position on the world’s cultural stage.

Inzerillo said DGDA is confident that the development of the historic Diriyah Gate will represent a huge leap in the Kingdom’s position on the regional and international cultural map.

“Such projects are carried out through accumulated experiences, distinctive young talents, aspirations, and ambitions embracing the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030,” he added.

To mark the occasion, Salwa Palace, which is in the historic Turaif district and is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, was decorated with the Kingdom’s flag and the National Day slogan.

A movie produced by DGDA for National Day and filmed in Turaif district in Diriyah was widely circulated on social media.

The movie was about Diriyah’s history and how its features shaped the will, determination, and awareness of Saudis. According to DGDA, Saudi people learned generosity from palm trees, endurance from the desert, physiognomy from hawks, strength from wolves, persistence from the steadfastness of the mudbrick, determination from the sword, and patience from camels.

These features have become an integral part of the Saudi personality and originated from Diriyah, dubbed “Jewel of the Kingdom,” the capital of the first Saudi state and the home of the ruling family.

The movie, which included much historical information, impressive artistic performances, and an expressive soundtrack, also drew on the local natural environment.

Among other activities organized by the authority was an entertainment and cultural event titled “The seven districts of Diriyah.” Seven teams of knights in the Saudi Najdi uniform and wearing the Diriyah logo visited the seven neighborhoods, talking to residents and providing them with information on the National Day, Diriyah, and the Kingdom’s history.

Each team distributed gifts to the people of the neighborhoods on the occasion.

To abide by the precautionary measures to combat the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic the DGDA organized a carriage to roam the streets of Diriyah to provide various activities for its residents. The carriage visited different sites and stopped at three main places to receive the public.

The “Arab Art” event portrayed several prominent Saudi figures in all fields and included musical performances.

The event entitled “The Arab horsemen” included dance performances and bicycle shows.

Earlier, DGDA launched a number of economic, heritage, and cultural schemes aimed at highlighting the city’s historical potential, with its major heritage sites, Najdi architectural designs, and the natural environment.

“This helps the region carry out these major projects to allure more than 25 million tourists and visitors inside and outside the Kingdom to enjoy an exceptional lifestyle as Diriyah represents the cultural heart of the Kingdom, a tourist destination with a new and developed lifestyle and one of the greatest gathering places in the world,” said DGDA in a statement.