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.


Saudi program seeks ‘culture of dialogue, tolerance’

Updated 01 October 2020

Saudi program seeks ‘culture of dialogue, tolerance’

  • Islam has provided the first constitution that enhances the idea of common citizenship and freedom of religions

RIYADH: The King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) and the Interreligious Platform for Dialogue and Cooperation (IPDC) on Wednesday launched the Dialogue Program 2020 among religious leaders and organizations in the Arab world.

KAICIID secretary-general, Faisal bin Abdulrahman bin Muaammar, said the center aims to enhance the culture of dialogue and coexistence, and highlight the value of human diversity.

He said the center also lays the foundations of understanding and collaboration among all religions and cultures, and highlights the importance of building a diverse culture.

The center provides sustainable solutions for today’s challenges, he added.

“Serious dialogue can enhance the role of interreligious institutions, helping to promote a culture of dialogue, coexistence and tolerance in society,” he said. “The message of the center addresses all humankind and not a specific society.”

The terrorist events that ripped through the region were the result of fanaticism and hatred, he said, noting that people of all diverse and multiple backgrounds can coexist peacefully in society.

“Islam has provided the first constitution that enhances the idea of common citizenship and freedom of religions. The Document of Madinah included a comprehensive constitution that guides people of different religious backgrounds on how to live together peacefully and practice their religion freely, and, most importantly, enhance the values of coexistence, justice, security and peace among one another,” he added.

Bin Muaammar called on those who have the capability to fight the discourse of extremism, saying that dialogue can enhance “human principles and values such as mercy, respect, tolerance, peace and social solidarity.”

He also urged religious leaders and institutions, as well as policymakers, to promote such values and strengthen comprehensive citizenship.

“Those leaders and institutions can fight and confront the threats facing peaceful coexistence and tolerance, threats that are posed by extreme groups,” he said. “Religious institutions should enhance the culture of common citizenship, each in their society.”

KAICIID contributes to such efforts through its experience and collaboration with relevant institutions around the world.

The Dialogue Program 2020 promotes dialogue, common citizenship and coexistence in the Arab world through cooperation in a range of projects. It also challenges messages of hate locally, nationally and regionally.