Jan 01 2012
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28,000 Saudi women ready to replace men in sales jobs
Fahd Al-Tukhaifi, assistant undersecretary for development at the ministry, said that these women would replace salesmen at 7,353 lingerie and ladies' makeup shops across the Kingdom. The ministry has set next Wednesday (Jan. 4) as the deadline to implement its directive to replace salesmen with Saudi saleswomen at these shops, Al-Eqtisadiah business daily reported on Saturday.
Al-Tukhaifi said Riyadh province tops with the number of Saudi women with 5,621 who are ready to work as saleswomen at lingerie shops. Makkah province follows up with 5,086 and Eastern Province with 3,183 women. The remaining women who have registered for the job are spread over 10 other provinces.
"The ministry was able to classify those shops that are selling exclusively lingerie items and cosmetics as well as those selling both the items, thanks to the data collected by the working teams," he said.
Replying to a question with regard to hiring foreign women to replace salesmen at these shops, the official has clarified that the royal decree specifically stated that the saleswomen must be Saudis. "Hence, replacing salesmen with foreign women is a clear violation of the decree and the ministry would take punitive measures against shops violating the directive. However, a woman born to a Saudi mother and a foreign father will be treated as a Saudi woman whether it is for hiring at lingerie shops or considering for Nitaqat Saudization program," he said.
Referring to the economic and social impact of hiring Saudi saleswomen at shops selling lingerie and women accessories, Al-Tukhaifi said that hiring women to work in the field has several economic and social advantages. "This will create an appropriate environment for women to work. On the economic front, it will create more job opportunities for women, and thus would be a boost to the Saudization drive in addition to accelerating the nation's economic progress," he said adding that this would also help prevent outflow of Saudi capital from the Kingdom. "Here, the employer and the employees, as well as the companies engaged in providing employment and giving job training are all Saudis. Therefore, there is no question of the flight of the capital," he said.
The spokesman said employing Saudi saleswomen at lingerie shops was a new opportunity for women. "In the past, it was very difficult for Saudi women to get access to job opportunities at these shops dominated by foreigners," he said.
Referring to the social impact of the new initiative, the ministry official said that it respected the special nature of women who would no longer have to be served by men.
"As part of the ministry's efforts to reach out to owners of lingerie shops to make them aware of the necessity to employ Saudi saleswomen, the ministry conducted workshops in various cities and regions in the Kingdom," Al-Tukhaifi said.
In these workshops, none of them had opposed or refused to implement the royal decree. Most of the discussions revolve around the mechanism to implement it and about particulars of financial support from the Human Resources Development Fund, in addition to details of providing training to these women.
The official said that the ministry has set up a data base about the lingerie and ladies accessory shops across the Kingdom. The 400-member working team, including inspectors and assistants who had expertise in enumeration work, were successful in getting answers for a questionnaire with regard to all the details of the shops, items sold there and particulars about the shop and owner as well as the employees. These included information such as commercial registration of shops, their municipality license and file number at the Ministry of Labor, shop owner's name, and ID number, items sold at the shops in addition to lingerie and accessories such as abayas, readymade garments and footwear.
Al-Tukhaifi reaffirmed that the ministry's decision is mandatory binding to all lingerie shops across the Kingdom without any exception. Referring to employing women at shops selling items such as abayas, readymade dresses and footwear, he said that Saudi women could also be employed at these shops. "But this should be done only after fulfilling all the required conditions. If any employer wants to hire Saudi saleswomen at an abaya shop, then there should not be any salesmen working together with them at the shop," he said adding that in such cases all the employees at the sales section should be women.
Meanwhile, the Kingdom's Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh has demanded shop owners and traders to comply with the principles of Shariah while employing women. He said that employing women at shops where they have to interact with men is a crime and against the Shariah.
Al-Asheikh, who is also head of the Senior Scholars' Council, made the remarks in his Friday sermon that was focused on the topic of "keys of virtue and evil" at the mosque in Al-Hakam Palace area of Riyadh.
The grand mufti said that hiring women at shops selling ladies' items and making them interact with men at sales and cash counters without any shyness and timidity would result in a lot of trouble that must be shouldered by owners of these shops. Describing this act as violation of the Shariah principles, Al-Asheikh warned against being deceived by propaganda and inclining toward such forbidden things.
"Every Muslim should exhibit the utmost keenness to do only virtue and shut all doors leading to vice. All of us should serve as keys to virtue, whether it is in the case of father to his children or a teacher to his students," he said.
The grand mufti also warned traders and businessmen against fraud, greed and selling of forbidden goods. "They should comply with the principles of Shariah in their deeds, especially while hiring employees. A trader, whom Allah blessed with wealth and affluence, should be a key to virtues," he said.
Al-Asheikh urged members of the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (Haia) to show mercy and compassion, while discharging their duties toward those who were caught up in wrong doing. "The driving force behind their work must be love of virtue, protection of morality, and correction of wrong doing, and not blaming wrong doers, annoying them or scandalizing them," he added.
© Arab News 2012
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