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 unite in condemnation of US Navy base attack

Updated 08 December 2019

Saudis unite in condemnation of US Navy base attack

  • The attack, in which a Saudi gunman killed three Americans, is viewed as an act that does not represent Saudi people
  • The OIC has said the attacker did not represent the tolerant Islamic values that distinguish the Saudi people

From the king and top-level Saudi government officials to everyday Saudi citizens, all are united in condemning the attack on a US Navy base in Pensacola, Florida, calling it as “un-Islamic” and barbaric.

The shooting of three Americans by a Saudi gunman was an individual attack that does not represent the Kingdom’s people, it has been widely  stressed. 

For decades, many Saudis have lived in the US for work or attended universities across many states, becoming their own ambassadors. 

Nedda Akhonbay, a communications professional working in Jeddah, expressed her sadness when she heard the news.

“My condolences go out to the families of the victims as I hope they find peace in their lives after facing such a tragedy. As a Saudi-American and having spent many formative years in the US and made friends who became like family, I thought this attack was very close to home and I hope both people work together to get past it.”

“As a student who lived in the States, I never faced any problems for being a Muslim,” said Alaa Sendi, an American-Saudi lecturer working in Jeddah University.

Having obtained a PhD in electrical engineering, Dr. Nazih Al-Othmani lived between the states of Michigan and Pennsylvania for ten years in the late 1990s and was in the US during the 9/11 attacks. He recalled how Americans understood that such atrocious attacks never represented a community, and this one was no exception.

“The tragic event that took place yesterday does not represent us, this attack is unacceptable regardless of any reason and no sane person can ever accept it,” he said. “I lived in the States for many years, I was also there on 9/11, and made many American friends throughout my time there. They stood by us, they helped us, protected us and our relationship was very civil and courteous. We need to stand together to combat this dangerous tendency that can be found in every community.”

The attack at the US naval station in Pensacola, Florida, was the second incident at an American military base in this week, following another shooting at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on Wednesday. (AFP)

Many Saudis are angered over the actions of this one individual. Dr. Al-Othmani expressed his concerns about those who would take advantage of the situation and try to point a finger at Saudis.

“Though right-wingers will take advantage of the event and attack Saudi Arabia, I don’t believe many Americans will see it that way. Americans are aware enough to differentiate between the nationality of an individual and his actions,” he said.

Al-Othmani recommends that Saudi students communicate, cooperate and extend a hand of friendship to their respective communities.

In the decades of friendship and cooperation between the US and Saudi Arabia, many Americans have come to work in the Kingdom and some have made it their home. 

Dr. Alia Mitchell, vice dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Director of the Teaching and Learning Center at the Prince Sultan University in Riyadh, is an American citizen who has been a Muslim for more than 30 years and has lived in the Kingdom for more than 20 years. She has chosen to live in the Kingdom as she sees the beauty of the religion interwoven into society, one that she believes is not represented by the shooter. 

“When something tragic that happens like this, it’s on the individual,” she said. “it doesn’t go back to the community or the society.

“I’m still sickened and mostly very, very saddened with this tragedy,” said Melanie H. “I’ve a son the same age as the shooter and can’t imagine what the pain and grief his actions would do to me as a parent. To learn that your son has caused so much hell… that he has taken others’ lives.”

She said: “I lived in Saudi Arabia for over 10 years and I have experienced Saudi’s hospitality, warmth — nothing like what I imagined or expected before arriving. It isn’t perfect but then what country or nation is?” 

“Now that the country has opened its doors to the world, people really shouldn’t judge the book by its cover especially when criminals like this shooter make such a false, misleading cover.” 

Melanie H continued: “Do not judge a people by an individual — that’s what we Americans are all about. No judging.”


• King Salman leads Saudi official condemnations of Florida attack

He doesn’t represent us’: Saudis tweet in solidarity with Americans over Florida Navy base shooting

 Florida shooting ‘nothing to do with gunman’s family, tribe’

“This crime does not represent us as Saudis,” said Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Sheikh, minister of Islamic Affairs, on his personal Twitter account. “We reject such criminal acts and we sympathize with the injured and the families of the victims. It is a horrible crime and a dishonest act.

“We condemn crimes anywhere and anytime, and we stress our complete rejection of such horrible criminal acts which Islam forbids.”

Saudi scholar and Imam of Quba Mosque in Madinah Saleh Al-Maghamsi shared the same notion. He said: “This incident should be stripped away from religion and from the country to which whoever committed this criminal act is affiliated. The Shariah does not approve of this act for it violates the texts of the Holy Qur’an and the teachings of the Prophet, which is based on the principle of no bloodshed. Logic also does not approve of this action.” 


This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said the aggressor did not represent the tolerant Islamic values that distinguish the Saudi people and all Muslims who believe in tolerance, moderation and coexistence.

The General Secretariat of the Council of Senior Scholars in Saudi Arabia also condemned the shooting incident in Florida and called it a heinous crime. 

Describing it as a crime against humanity, the senior scholars stressed that such actions were against the true teachings of Islam. They said that the Saudi people will continue to uphold their noble values and contribute to the progress and prosperity of the world and humanity.