- Title: SAUDI ARABIA: Saudi restaurant offers employment opportunities for women
- Date: 17th April 2014
- Summary: TABUK, SAUDI ARABIA (RECENT) (REUTERS) SAUDI FAMILY ENTERING RESTAURANT, WALKING BY BANNER READING IN ARABIC: 'FAMILIES ONLY - TABUK OLD TIMES COFFEE SHOP AND RESTAURANT' TWO SAUDI WOMEN PREPARING DRINKS AT RESTAURANT'S COFFEE SHOP WAITRESS SERVING DRINKS TO CUSTOMERS FAMILY SEATED AT RESTAURANT / WAITRESS BRING THEM MENU MAN READING MENU WAITRESS TAKING FOOD ORDERS FROM FAMILY (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) HATEM AL-GELEWI, FOUNDER AND OWNER, TABUK OLD TIMES COFFEE SHOP AND RESTAURANT, SAYING: ''We wanted the restaurant to excel and we wanted Saudi women to work here. All the cooks we have here are skilled chefs and they are all Saudi, they make local dishes and casseroles, and we hope that it will be a beneficial project and that we will succeed with it.'' TWO WOMEN WORKING IN THE KITCHEN (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) HANADI AL-BLUWI, EMPLOYEE IN THE COFFEE SHOP, SAYING: ''We offer hot and cold drinks, herbal and different types of coffee. Thank god, there is an acceptance from customers as we are Saudi workers, and we're met with support and encouragement for the idea, and this motivates us to do better.'' VARIOUS OF WOMEN WORKING IN THE KITCHEN MAN AND HIS WIFE EXCHANGING FOOD MENU COUPLE ORDERING FOOD / WAITRESS WRITING DOWN ORDER (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) KHALID AL-HUJAIRI, CUSTOMER, SAYING: ''What I like about this restaurant is that Saudi youngsters work in it, and the food is the same as from Saudi chefs. This is what drew my attention to this place.'' WAITRESS PUSHING TROLLEY WITH FOOD VARIOUS OF WAITRESS SERVING FOOD
- Embargoed: 2nd May 2014 13:00
- Location: Saudi Arabia
- Country: Saudi Arabia
- Topics: Employment,Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA1LAQN1JCLZV79GP7DEKEIZZ5X
- Story Text: In a rare move in conservative Saudi Arabia, a restaurant is employing women in its kitchen and as waitresses.
A restaurant in Saudi Arabia's Tabuk region is going about things in a different way.
Women make up the bulk of the workforce at the Tabuk Old Times Coffee Shop and Restaurant, a rarity in the conservative kingdom.
The restaurant, established by 40-year old Saudi businessman Hatem Al-Gelewi, has been up and running for three months, with women working as chefs and waitresses.
Al-Gelewi said he wanted to offer employment opportunities for local women. He said he faced difficulties in the beginnig from the local community, but that the restaurant is now attracting more customers.
''We wanted the restaurant to excel and we wanted Saudi women to work here. All the cooks we have here are skilled chefs and they are all Saudi, they make local dishes and casseroles, and we hope that it will be a beneficial project and that we will succeed with it,'' said the restaurant's owner.
In a country where women are banned from driving or opening a bank account or travelling overseas without their father or husband's permission, the labour market is slowly opening up to more women.
Restrictions on where women can work are steadily being realaxed. In the past few years, women have been allowed to replace men as sales professionals in lingerie and cosmetics shops and to work as waitresses in the women's sections of restaurants.
But in this restaurant they are able to work in the family section.
''We offer hot and cold drinks, herbal and different types of coffee. Thank god, there is an acceptance from customers as we are Saudi workers, and we're met with support and encouragement for the idea, and this motivates us to do better,'' said restaurant worker Hanadi Al-Bluwi.
For customers coming to dine here, the appeal is that they can tuck into traditional homemade cuisine, and that the people working in the restaurant are from the local community.
''What I like about this restaurant is that Saudi youngsters work in it, and the food is the same as from Saudi chefs. This is what drew my attention to this place,'' said customer Khalid Al-Hujairi.
King Abdullah has pushed for cautious social and economic reforms in the world's top oil exporter, including efforts to give women a more prominent role in society.
But the King's reform efforts, such as appointing women to the advisory Shoura Council and promoting female employment, have sometimes incurred opposition among conservatives in the country's powerful Wahhabi clergy.
For now the women here are happy that they're able to work especially at a time when more women are looking for jobs, and and more families come to depend on their income.
Saudi Arabia say the progress for women's rights in the kingdom remains achingly slow. But small steps are underway for a change for the better.
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