RIYADH: When women replace the Saudi salesmen working in lingerie shops, as the Labor Ministry recently decided, it might jeopardize the men’s jobs and drive them into unemployment.
An article in local Arabic daily Al-Eqtisadiah quoted sources saying that a number of these Saudi men started looking for new jobs. They anticipated the decision, which will be implemented mid next month. Other salesmen said they would wait, hoping the ministry would employ them elsewhere.
Assistant undersecretary of the ministry Fahd Sulaiman Al-Tikhaifi said the ministry was not obliged to find substitute jobs for the Saudi salesmen. He made it clear the decision would apply to all salesmen at lingerie shops: Saudis and foreigners.
“The Saudi salesmen may apply for the job opportunities offered under the employment program of the Human Resources Development Fund,” Al-Tikhaifi said. He pointed out that very few Saudi salesmen worked in lingerie shops. Most of them were employed by large companies that own these shops. “These few men can be transferred to other departments in these companies,” he added.
To Saudis working in their own lingerie shops, Al-Tikhaifi recommended they change their activities from selling lingerie and accessories to selling women clothing and products for mothers.
“Limiting the sales of lingerie and other female accessories to women alone is aimed at preserving the privacy of Saudi women when they go shopping. It will also provide more job opportunities to Saudi women,” he explained.
HR specialist Jamal Mansour said the decision had created a number of jobs for Saudi women. “Last month alone more than 1,200 vacancies for women were announced,” he said.
Many private companies, retail establishments and malls have offered over 200 job titles for women, including cashiers, security guards and saleswomen. “There were also jobs in management, supervision and a few special offers for disabled women,” Mansour said.
Over 5,000 jobs are currently available for women with qualifications ranging from intermediate school certificates to doctoral degrees.Yes, but how do they get those "qualifications" if they can't drive and aren't allowed out the house without a close male relative to serve as chaperon?
Also--I never really understood how, given Wahhabi notions of "modesty," men and only men were allowed to sell women their barely-there lacy unmentionables.