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.


Saudi labor minister urges Kingdom to increase economic role of charity sector

Updated 24 January 2020

Saudi labor minister urges Kingdom to increase economic role of charity sector

  • Saudi Minister of Labor and Social Development Ahmad Al-Rajhi said: “Our effort is to increase the share of the non-profit sector in GDP”

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia needed to increase the contribution of the non-profit sector to the Kingdom’s economic and social development, the country’s labor minister told business conference delegates on Thursday.

Moderating a session on the subject during the final day of the Riyadh Economic Forum (REF), Saudi Minister of Labor and Social Development Ahmad Al-Rajhi said: “Our effort is to increase the share of the non-profit sector in GDP.”

Describing the non-profit sector as the third pillar of sustainable economic development, the minister pointed out that in developed countries its average contribution toward GDP had reached 6 percent.

Referring to a REF study on the sector, he noted that it was only during the last decade that the Kingdom had come to realize its important role in economic development, social participation, job creation, and promoting the culture of teamwork.

“The non-profit sector contributes to Saudi Arabia’s GDP by one percent and our effort is to increase the share,” Al-Rajhi told the session’s attendees.

Presenting the REF study, Yousef bin Othman Al-Huzeim, secretary-general of Al-Anoud Charitable Foundation, said: “This sector, together with its substantial developmental roles, has become a criterion for the overall progress of nations and a yardstick of their civilization and humanitarian activity rather than a mere indicator of individuals’ income.”

He added that the sector had a key part to play in helping to realize the Saudi Vision 2030 goal of achieving sustainable development through diversification, and that the aim was to raise its level of contribution to the country’s GDP from 1 percent to 5 percent by 2030.

The study stressed the need to transform the sector from a mere initiative into an institutional entity concerned with social investment and integration, in cooperation with the public and private sectors.

Among its key findings, the study highlighted the requirement to increase the awareness of sector employees and supervising agencies about the development needs of society.

A lack of detailed information on the non-profit sector in the Kingdom was also having a negative effect on the extent of its contribution to economic and social development, the study found.

The media too had failed to give enough coverage to the sector and rules and regulations often stood in the way of any expansion in individual and community partnerships through charities and trusts.

Princess Nouf bint Mohammed Al-Saud, CEO of the King Khalid Foundation (KKF), said women were the most important enablers of the non-profit sector.

Currently, the most prominent development was the system of NGOs and philanthropic associations, and the stimulation of the sector to implement good governance, she added.

The princess urged the lifting of restrictions on money transfers to the non-profit sector and tax exemptions on charities and donations.

The KKF had issued a number of regulations to help the non-profit sector, she said, but there was still a need for the creation of more executive programs in order to realize Vision 2030 goals.

Rajaa bin Manahi Al-Marzouqi, a professor of economics at Prince Saud Al-Faisal Institute for Diplomatic Studies, in Riyadh, said: “If we look at any economy, it consists of three important sectors, which are the government, private, and non-profit sectors. There is a need to develop the non-profit sector in such a way that it sustains in the long run and contributes to socio-economic development.”