Lebanon Shiite Women Call On Council to Revise Custody Laws. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)
Pakistani Girl Killed To Avenge 'Free-Will' Marriage
Women Want To Preserve Yemen Islamic Tradition
Girl Guides for Empowering Bangladesh Girls to Change Society
DR Congo Women Fight Rape with Briquettes
Sexual Harassment in Gaza Caught on Video Goes Viral
Afghan HR Leader Samar Named in Top 10 Most Influential Women List
Women Artists Dominate UK Art Scene
Malala Favours Peaceful Dialogue with Taliban
Lebanon Shiite Women Call On Council to Revise Custody Laws
How Viable Is Domestic Abuse Hotline? Saudi Women Ask
Saudi Women Entrepreneurs to Get Technical Support on SMEs
Saudi Women Enter Into Catering Business
World Bank Praises Saudi Women’s Home Products
Few Female Translators at Tawafa Establishments
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
‘Don't Send Women Sans Mahrams’ To Haj
October 08, 2013
JEDDAH — The Ministry of Haj has warned all Haj missions against transporting any female pilgrims under the age of 45 years old without a Mahram (male guardian), said MOH’s spokesman Hatim Qadi. No mission has violated these regulations so far this season. Last year, the ministry prohibited 1,000 Nigerian women to perform Haj because they were not accompanied by Mahrams. They were all sent back to their home country.
October 8, 2013
SUKKUR: A girl was allegedly gunned down by her brothers allegedly because she married of her own will in Lal Mahaikh village near Sukkur on Monday.
S*, wife of Amjad Deho, was in her house when her brothers broke into the house and killed her. SITE police shifted the body to Civil hospital for autopsy but they have yet to register the case.
Reportedly about a month ago, S* visited the women complaint cell at Sukkur and complained that her brothers wanted to marry her off to an elderly man while she wanted to marry Deho. She further said that her brothers, Umeed Ali and others, had threatened to kill her and so she did not want to go with them.
The girl appeared in court, where she gave the same statement and the judge ordered the police to send her to Darul Aman. While she was living in the shelter, her brothers met her and assured her that they will marry her to Deho. On their surety, she went back. Her brothers, honouring their promise, married her off to Deho but still bore a grudge against her.
Women want to preserve Yemen Islamic tradition
Yemen Post Staff
Oct 08 2013
As NDC representatives have returned to the negotiating table to finalise Yemen’s power transition ahead of the drafting of the new constitution, women have been keen to demonstrate their desire to see the principles of Islam and Sharia respected and carried through the wording of the new constitution.
Fears have, among some segments of society that rights activists would push for a westernization of Yemen and thus dilute Islamic principles in regards to marriage, women rights, education and other matters related to family law.
Intent on making their voices heard before any ink is set to dry, women took to the streets of the capital, calling on President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi to respect and uphold Yemen’s Islamic heritage and traditions in keeping with Sharia.
Demonstrators warned they would never tolerate living under foreign rules or foreign dogma, especially if they came in contradiction to God’s laws.
A profoundly traditional society, Yemen has always been proud of its Islamic heritage and as such has been keen to defend its legal system, even when such a system has at times clashed with western values. Child marriage and women rights in general have long been contentious issues in Yemen, with one the one side clerics and Islamic scholars calling for the respect of God’s commandments on the matter and rights activists looking to align Yemen with the international community by establishing stricter sets of rules.
While many experts have argued that the promotion of women rights needn’t clash with Islamic principles since by definition such rights are already enounced at length in the Quran, it is the wording of such rights which has led to much division.
Demonstrators also called on Monday for every official, every politician and every citizen to put the welfare of the people before all other considerations as to promote a fairer and just society where all people could live in harmony, peace and prosperity.
With no political agenda, other than the promotion of unity and respect of the sacred, the women of Yemen gave dignitaries a lesson in humility by their selfless call for a better nation.
Our Correspondent, Barisal Bangladesh
Participants at a Girl Guides camp on Monday discussed the role of girls in achieving the millennium development goals and stressed on empowering them to change society. The day-long event was held at the Barisal Islamia College as a part of the celebrations marking “girl-child day” with the theme “girl-child in leadership”. An oath- taking ceremony of Girl Guides Rangers was also held at the college campus. The camp was conducted by regional trainer Shamsun Nahar, junior trainer Sumaiya Tabassum and Ranger Tanima Rahman Khan. The oath ceremony was led by Faizun Nahar, regional commissioner of Bangladesh Girl Guides Association. Mohsin Ul Islam Habul, acting principal of the college, was chief guest at the closing ceremony, while Rangers Dinara Begum and Jebunnesa Begum were present as special guests. The guests and participants said the girls of today are future mothers, so they should be extended special care for their proper physical, psychological and social development. The participants received different types of life-skill training, with emphasis on attaining leadership skills and self-sufficiency not only in family matters, but in all spheres of social life and national activities. They also stressed on the role of girls in achieving the millennium development goals of eliminating hunger and poverty. They also called for ensuring women’s equal participation in decision-making in all fields to end all sorts of gender discrimination. Identifying lack of skills, confidence and opportunities as the main reasons for backwardness of girls and women in Bangladesh, they recommended spreading Girl Guide activities for ensuring their education, leadership and skill development, employment, economic emancipation and political empowerment.
MUGUNGA, DR Congo — For the women forced to flee their homes by the fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the simple chores of getting food or fetching firewood are fraught with danger.
If they venture outside the camps set up for the displaced, they risk being raped by members of the many armed groups active in the region, or even by soldiers in the regular Congolese army.
Rape has become a weapon of war in eastern DR Congo, a defining feature of the conflicts rending the mineral-rich region since the 1994 genocide in neighboring Rwanda, whose aftermath deeply destabilized the area over the border.
At the Mugunga III camp, as at the dozen or so others scattered around Goma – the flashpoint city around which most of the recent fighting has revolved – women are often the ones who risk going outside, anxious to protect their husbands and sons from being forcibly recruited into a rebel group or worse.
The World Food Program brings meals to the camp once a month, but the rest of the time the women have little choice but to venture outside to farm the surrounding fields and gather firewood to cook.
Aid staff and the displaced have tried to find a compromise to keep women safe at the camp, which houses 14,000 people in dirt-floor shacks about 10 kilometers (six miles) west of Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.
“But it’s hard to reason with someone who needs wood, who’s hungry.... We try to show that there’s no need to go too far, even if it’s just to bring back a small amount,” said Evariste Kabunga, who represents the refugees at Mugunga III.
Providing alternative cooking fuel – mainly in the form of briquettes made of compressed sawdust – could go a long way to curbing the scourge, say the United Nations and humanitarian groups.
Several projects are now aiming to do just that.
A Dutch-backed World Food Program project has begun distributing briquettes made by local women to displaced people, according to Fabienne Pompey, a WFP spokeswoman.
Rick Slettenhaar, in charge of humanitarian affairs for the Dutch embassy, said the Netherlands was also working with the Women’s Refugee Commission to provide better stoves that use less wood and can also burn briquettes.
In 2011, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, set up a small factory at the Mugunga III camp that makes briquettes from water, sawdust and paper.
The project “is both a way to prevent sexual assaults and a way of generating revenue,” said Celine Schmitt, UNHCR spokeswoman in DR Congo.
The displaced people keep part of their output to cook and sell the rest – mainly to the camp’s bakery, which is funded by UNHCR and pays $5 for a bag of 300 briquettes.
Sexual violence against women in eastern DR Congo increased sharply last year as a new rebellion by a group of army mutineers called the M23 engulfed the region in fresh unrest.
More than 5,000 women were raped in North Kivu province in 2012, according to a local hospital.
At Mugunga III alone, health clinics recorded 664 cases of sexual violence from January to July 2013, according to Schmitt.
Late last year UNHCR announced it had delineated “safe” areas for collecting firewood, but the project never took off.
The women opposed it, fearing their husbands would be abducted if they came with them, or that they could be caught up in the fighting if police accompanied them and they came across rebels. “The only solution is to be escorted by MONUSCO,” the UN’s peacekeeping mission in DR Congo, said Sabine Mubi of the humanitarian group Hope in Action, which offers counseling for rape victims.
But so far the idea of MONUSCO escorts is just a proposal.
And a 32-year-old rape victim said she had reservations: “This is not possible because the escort will stop on the main road, but it’s (away from there) that we are attacked. Also, you cannot all collect (wood) in the same place. You have to spread out to find enough wood to return to the camp.”
She works at the UNHCR briquette factory at the Mugunga III camp. “If I make briquettes, I have no reason to go out and fetch firewood.... I am so afraid to go there after what I’ve been through,” she said.
Another camp resident, 62-year-old Jeanne, says funds are needed to expand the briquette factory and a nearby soap factory, another UNHCR project that provides work for women inside the camp.
“These activities are the way they pay to school our children,” she said.
Unfortunately, providing an alternative to firewood is only a partial solution.
“Women have to go out in search of food. They can’t stay there, crying and waiting” for food aid, Mubi said.
By: Abeer Ayyoub
On Oct. 1, Shahed Abu Salama, 23, eventually crossed through Egypt's often closed border on her way to Turkey, a week late for her scholarship studies. She had been delayed not because of the routine difficulties of crossing the border, as hard as that is today, but because she was sexually harassed on Sept. 29 by a young man among a mob of stranded students trying to storm a secured gate at the Rafah crossing point.
In a bid to demonise Hamas’ treatment of civilians, Fatah, which controls the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, exploited the incident by posting the last moments of the abuse on YouTube, showing a Hamas police officer scuffling with the offender. The video was taken down not long after Hamas released its own edited, slow-motion version showing Abu Salama pushing the offender and said that the policeman had intervened to punish the abuser. On her Facebook page, since removed, Abu Salama thanked the policeman who had hit her abuser.
After the video went viral, Hamas facilitated Abu Salama’s travel as a reward for her outspoken critique of the incident. This has been a much discussed issue in Gaza, but what stole the spotlight was not that a woman was sexually harassed, but the tit-for-tat between Hamas and Fatah.
There are many untold stories about sexual harassment in Gaza, home to 1.7 million Palestinians. In a conservative society such as Gaza’s, female victims of sexual harassment seldom speak out, and when she does, society usually places the blame on her. Although Hamas-affiliated media hid Abu Salama’s face due to such concerns, she bravely disclosed her identity on her Facebook page, acknowledging that she was the person videotaped. “I’m not the one who should feel ashamed, only him and everyone like him,” read Abu Salama's post.
Males and females have little interaction in professional settings in Gaza. Gender segregation begins in elementary school at age eight. With Hamas’ takeover of Gaza in 2007, restrictions on gender relations were tightened. Many couples have been subjected to questioning for being in public together.
Unlike neighboring Egypt, where there have been a number of incidents of public sexual harassment, this is not common on the streets of Gaza, which has tight-knit communities with few strangers. Verbal harassment, however, is a common occurrence that women have learned to live with.
Zaheya Khalil, a psychiatrist at the Gaza Mental Health Program, attributed the growing phenomenon of harassment to the social, psychological and financial hardship Palestinians in Gaza are experiencing.
“Most of those who harass girls are from the youths who are supposed to use their energy in the right place, yet lack of education and employment opportunities can push them to such behaviors,” Khalil told Al-Monitor in a phone interview. According to the most recent statistics published by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, Gaza’s unemployment rate in 2010 was estimated at more than 45%, one of the highest in the world.
Since public and physical sexual harassment is uncommon in Gaza, the YouTube video became the talk of the town. Social media users shared the video for either supporting Abu Salama or blaming her for standing between men. Women are often accused of being the guilty party in cases of sexual harassment because of the way they look, dress or behave. Rarely, in Gaza's patriarchal society, are fingers pointed at the men, the actual perpetrators of the harassment.
Khalil referred to societal guilt as a key perpetuator of sexual harassment. Because women often remain silent, the men who commit such acts take this as an opportunity to offend again. “Women are always worried about their reputation. This is enough reason for them not to speak up,” Khalil pointed out.
As head of an Islamic government, Hamas seeks to curtail incidents of sexual harassment. For example, it usually deploys police patrols around girls secondary schools at the end of the school day. Hamas police spokesman Ayoub Abu Sha’ar played down fears that Gaza might experience a sexual harassment phenomenon similar to that witnessed in Egypt. “The few cases we had of sexual harassment only show that we have some unbalanced people. It’s not a general [problem],” Abu Sha’ar told Al-Monitor.
Prominent human rights activist Mustafa Ibrahim argues that the failure to address sexual harassment does not stem from the law, but from the silence of the victims. “Sexual harassment can never be considered by the law unless the girl officially complains at a police station, but she prefers to stay silent most of the time due to social stigma,” Ibrahim clarified.
Another problem is that sexual harassment often occurs in the home, perpetrated by male relatives, making it even harder for women victims to speak out. Khalil revealed, “Of the cases I happened to encounter during the course of my work, more than 70% of the victims were harassed by their relatives, yet they always preferred, or even forced by their husbands, to stay silent lest they should be accused of immorality.”
A 24-year-old teacher who spoke on condition of anonymity said that no matter how much people in Gaza try to deny the existence of sexual harassment in their community, every single girl in Gaza has experienced some type of harassment.
“I get verbally harassed many times every single day. I even was physically harassed many times by passengers while using public taxis,” she said. The teacher admitted that she never acted against those who abused her in taxis, fearing how the other passengers might react.
“I don’t expect anyone to stand by me. All they will do is to look at me as a bad girl and start gossiping. I don’t want this.”
Dr. Sima Samar, head of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), has been named one of the Top 10 Most Influential Women in South and Central Asia for 2013 by Central and South Asia Business.
As chairperson of the AIHRC, Dr. Samar oversees the progress of human rights education programs across Afghanistan, the implementation of a nationwide women's rights education program, and the monitoring and investigation of human rights abuses. She is also the United Nation's Special Rapporteur on human rights for Sudan.
Previously, Dr. Samar was the first Deputy Chair and Minister of Women's Affairs in Afghanistan. She has long been a strong supporter of Afghan women's rights, working shoulder to shoulder with Afghan women leaders to bring positive change to the lives of Afghan women and girls. In 1989, Dr. Samar founded The Shuhada Organization, providing healthcare services and education to Afghan women and girls. The Shuhada Organization continues to operate in Afghanistan and has expanded its reach.
Dr. Samar is well-respected in the international community and has been nominated and awarded numerous honors throughout her influential career, including being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 and winning Feminist Majority's Award for Global Women's Rights in 2007.
Other Top 10 awardees include philanthropists, government leaders, and activists like Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old educational activist who survived an attack by the Taliban.
Women artists dominate UK art scene
LONDON — Saudi Arabia is home to many artists and a large proportion are women. But the kingdom still has no public gallery dedicated to modern art and there are only a small handful of commercial galleries. Saudi Arabia measures 2,149,690 sq km and has a population of 28.29 million.
In the comparatively small United Kingdom, which measures just 243,610 sq km there are more than twice as many residents — 62.34 million to be precise.
But in contrast to Saudi Arabia there are public galleries and hundreds of commercial galleries spread across the country. Art is truly embraced.
Like Saudi Arabia. the UK has a large number of women artists too but we can be a little more specific. Fifty per cent of the artists and craftspeople represented by Creative Coverage, the arts organization, are female.
One such artist is Haidee-Jo Summers who has had “a very busy summer.”
“In June I was fortunate to have three works accepted for The Artist/Patchings exhibition and one of my paintings there won the Royal Talens Award which was great,” says Haidee-Jo. “I also entered the Society of Women Artists annual exhibition for the first time and had a painting selected, which was on show at the Mall galleries in June.”
Haidee-Jo, who was painting in Cornwall in July and France for all of August, then exhibited some paintings in the mixed summer show at the Russell Gallery, Putney and the Lincolnshire Artists Society show at the Usher Gallery, Lincoln.
“My paintings have been selling well at the Harbour Gallery in Cornwall since July when Creative Coverage introduced me to this gallery. I’m also thrilled to have had a large painting selected for the Royal Society of Marine Artists exhibition, which will be on show at the Mall Galleries in October.
“In early summer I had an article in The Artist magazine about painting alla prima in oils and another one on painting seascapes was in the September issue. Now my autumn workshop schedule is underway, so I’m busy as ever.”
In October Haidee-Jo’s paintings can be seen at Skendleby Hall in Lincoln as part of a Creative Coverage group exhibition.
Malala favours peaceful dialogue with Taliban
AGENCIES and DAWN.COM
LONDON: Teenage Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai, who survived an assassination attempt after being shot by a Taliban gunman in Swat, says dialogue is the best way to fight militancy in Pakistan.
“The best way to solve problem and to fight against war is through dialogue, and is through peaceful way,” she said in an interview published by the BBC on Monday.
“But for me the best way to fight against terrorism and extremism is a simple thing – educate the next generation.”
She added that issues of terrorism are “not an issue for me, that's the job of the government…and that's also the job of America”.
Malala said it was important that the Taliban discussed their demands.
“They must do what they want through dialogue,” she said. “Killing people, torturing people and flogging people…it’s totally against Islam. They are misusing the name of Islam.”
The 16-year-old, whose continued fight for all children to go to school has made her a favourite for the Nobel Peace Prize this week, also expressed her desire of pursuing politics in the future.
“I will be a politician in my future. I want to change the future of my country and I want to make education compulsory,” Malala said in the interview.
“I hope that a day will come [when] the people of Pakistan will be free, they will have their rights, there will be peace and every girl and every boy will be going to school,” she said.
Malala dismissed the continued threats against her life and repeated her desire to return to Pakistan from Britain, where she was flown for treatment after the attack in October and where she now goes to school.
“The bad thing in our society and in our country is that you always wait for someone else to come,” Malala said.
“If I'm saying that there is no-one who is doing anything for education, if I say there is no electricity, there is no natural gas, the schools are being blasted, and I'm saying no-one is doing this, why don't I go for it, why don't I do this?
“I believe that I will achieve this goal because Allah is with me, God is with me and he saved my life.”
Malala admitted Britain had been a culture shock, “especially for my mother because we had never seen that women would be that much free – they would go to any market, they would be going alone with no men, no brothers and fathers”.
She said: “I'm not becoming western, I'm still following my own culture, the Pashtun culture.”
By Beckie Strum
BEIRUT: Nadine, 23, is allowed to see her young son for 24 hours once a week. It’s an injustice, she said, one she’s faced since a Shiite sheikh granted her and her ex-husband a divorce one year ago.
“This is minus the 10 hours that he sleeps, so I actually see my son 14 hours a week,” said Nadine, whose toddler wandered among the protesters.
She joined a dozen other women and a few men Saturday afternoon picketing in front of the Higher Shiite Council to demand that it revise its custody laws to be fairer to women.
Family law in Lebanon falls exclusively under the jurisdiction of religious courts, meaning each sect dictates rules regarding marriage, divorce, inheritance and custody. For Shiites, fathers automatically gain full custody of boys aged 2 years old. Mothers can keep their daughters until they reach 7 years old.
Nadine was one of several women at Saturday’s demonstration who are severely limited in the amount of time they can spend with their children. The women said there were many more like them, but that most divorced Shiite women were afraid to speak up.
Zeina Ibrahim, from Protecting Lebanese Women, an NGO that calls for more equitable religious and public policy, led the protest. She and her peers held up signs reading: “This law in our religion cuts me inside,” “You can’t take my children in the name of religion,” and “Shame on patriarchy and injustice.”
“The injustice inflicted on women regarding the issue of the age of custody is no longer bearable,” Ibrahim said, reading a prepared statement to a handful of reporters. “We came today to stage a sit-in in front of the Higher Shiite Council to say aloud ‘Stop taking women’s and children’s rights lightly, and enough with patriarchy under the cover of religion.”
Ibrahim also accused the Shiite religious establishment of corruption, bribery and favoritism.
In Nadine’s case, it was not the father, but his family who tried to keep her at arm’s length.
After the divorce, her in-laws limited time with her son to 14 hours every 10 days. She took the case back to court, where a sheikh told her if he could give her son to her permanently, he would, but he had to follow the law.
“He said, ‘If it were up to me, the baby should stay with the mother,” Nadine said.
Lebanon’s Sunni sheikhs allow the father to gain full custody of the children once they’re 12 years old, Ibrahim told The Daily Star. PLW was calling for the same from their Shiite counterparts.
Even the country’s main Shiite schools of thought disagree on which age a father should gain custody of the children. For example, the late Sayyed Mohammad Hasan Fadlallah was sympathetic toward raising the age limit.
Disagreement among sheikhs leaves some room for hope among divorcees, and Ibrahim said she received a call from the office of Sheikh Abdel-Amir Qabalan, deputy head of the Higher Shiite Council, saying the council was open to dialogue.
“It seems that something positive is looming,” she said. “Qabalan is open for dialogue with us next week regarding this issue.”
And if he isn’t, she said: “We will take to the streets again ... the Lebanese woman will no longer keep silent regarding her rights and the rights of her children.”
How viable is domestic abuse hotline? Saudi women ask
October 08, 2013
JEDDAH – In light of local criticism of the 24-hour domestic abuse hotline in Saudi Arabia, the Ministry of Social Affairs recently proposed a new mechanism to further improve the service. Many women in the Kingdom expressed concern about the viability of the hotline and whether it helps victims.
“Victims of abuse can call the 1919 emergency number and register their complaints through a voice mail system via the ministry’s communications system and officials will follow up with them the next day,” Minister of Social Affairs Yusuf Al-Othaimeen told an Arabic daily.
“The hotline frees women who previously could only go to police stations with their Mahram (male guardians). It is also a great solution for those who are abused by their Mahram. Now all we need to know is, does it really work and will people actually use it?” Tamara Habib, from Riyadh told Saudi Gazette.
At present, the Center for Protection against Abuse at the ministry continues working from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
“The toll free number 1919, which people use to inform about cases of domestic violence, is not any different from the other toll free numbers of the communication companies. You dial it and you will immediately be asked to wait ‘as all the employees are busy at the moment serving other customers.”
This reply is always automatically repeated... Is this a message from the Ministry of Social Affairs that domestic violence is allowed between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m.? If not, why are calls about domestic violence not received after 10 p.m.?” Mohammed Al-Harbe wrote in Okaz Arabic language daily newspaper.
“I mean it is great that Saudis can now report domestic abuse directly and anonymously. But no outline has been given. We are unsure of what it can do for us and for the expat community including maids who are also victimized in the country,” Samia Aziz, from Jeddah told Saudi Gazette.
In a move aimed at eliminating violence against women in the Kingdom, Saudi Arabia issued “Protection from Abuse” law earlier this week.
The law came into effect on Aug. 26, months after a nationwide campaign by the NGO King Khalid Foundation (KKF) to combat growing domestic violence against women.
Offenders may face up to a year in prison, a fine ranging from SR5,000 to SR50,000 or both.
In case of repetition of the crime, the punishment will be doubled. According to the law, anyone who knows about any cases of abuse must report (to authorities concerned) immediately.
ABHA – The Prince Sultan Fund for Woman’s Development will launch this month a unique program to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) run by Saudi women.
Hassan Al-Jasser, Secretary General of the Fund, said that the program called “Numu” (Growth) is aimed at extending technical support to these projects, especially entrepreneurial ones, in addition to developing marketing avenues for them.
“We will also strive to get wide media coverage for these projects. As part of supporting these projects, Numu will benefit from experts and specialists in the business field,” he said.
The Fund is a non-profitable organization engaged in striving to develop Saudi women’s skills so as to enable them to score excellent performance results.
Al-Jasser said that SMEs are regarded as engines of economic development in advanced countries by creating job opportunities, presenting innovative projects, and thus raising the level of productivity.
Hana Al-Zuhair, Deputy Secretary General of the Fund, said that Numu will create healthy environment to develop small and medium projects.
“The objectives of the program include attracting projects with entrepreneurial ideas and transform them into competitive projects. It will extend technical and moral support to owners of SMEs, market the projects and establish trade relations in addition to providing advanced training in accordance with the market needs.”
Afnan Al-Babtain, Executive Director of the Fund, said that Numu is the first step toward attracting and entertaining projects based on entrepreneurial ideas. “We will provide training to those who initiate such projects and will then build a network of relations between entrepreneurs and other agencies, in addition to extending necessary media support to the projects,” she said.
Al-Babtain emphasized the role of Numu in extending advanced training programs for the beneficiaries in fields such as establishing an identity for SMEs, marketing and e-marketing, management of human resources, financial control, time management and fixing priorities, and developing skills for negotiations.
Saudi women with a talent for cooking have entered into the market and are competing with major restaurants in organizing private parties and providing catering services for banquets.
Um Lama, a Saudi housewife, said she took up catering for private parties after gaining extensive experience in cooking. Um Lama hired a restaurateur to distribute her dishes.
“I entered into this business two years ago,” she said. “At first, I used to make simple dishes like stuffed vine leaves and cabbage leaves.
Family and friends encouraged me to turn it into a business. At the beginning, I rejected the idea, but the idea eventually grew on me and I began with smaller dishes and orders.”
“As time passed, demand increased and I eventually began catering for open buffets at weddings and parties at competitive prices. My business flourished thanks to the support of my family,” she added.
“Catering costs between SR500 and SR2,000 a meter. I make many dishes, including macaroni with white sauce, stuffed vegetables, chicken and meat kebabs, fish, appetizers and sweets. I also provide plates, cutlery and paper napkins,” she said.
Um Lama said she caters for seven open buffets every month. Her biggest catering project was for a wedding, where she whipped up a 12-meter open buffet.
“I now organize bazaars for home products so as to encourage women enter into this field. I hope I can help widows and divorcees work from home, especially since open buffets are becoming more popular,” she said.
A delegation from the World Bank has expressed admiration for the quality of home products manufactured by Saudi women, which were on display at an exhibition organized by the Riyadh Chamber and represented by the Riyadh Center for the Development of Small and Medium Businesses.
The exhibition was a celebration of Saudi women’s capabilities and the quality of their products conformed to international standards, the delegation said.
During the tour, the delegation discovered that one Saudi woman, who works from home, exports her products to the United States. The delegation took a keen interest in learning about how her products reached international markets.
Mansour bin Abdullah Al-Shathari, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Riyadh Center for the Development of Small and Medium Businesses and member of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industries’ Board, hosted the World Bank team and took them on a tour of the exhibition.
Al-Shathari presented the delegation with the “montijoun” (productive peoples’) website, which was established by the Riyadh Chamber, for promotional and marketing purposes for home investors’ products.
Each home investor has her own electronic store, where she can offer, sell and deliver items to buyers electronically and through Saudi express mail services.
The delegation appreciated the free services offered to home investors by the Riyadh chamber. They admired visitors’ reactions to support national products and their keenness to purchase them to encourage investors.
Al-Shathari expects that the exhibition and the launch of their website will decrease unemployment among the Kingdom’s females.
MAKKAH — A number of Saudi female translators said that Tawafa establishments are in need of women translators.
They said that there is a great need to train and qualify women to fulfill Tawafa establishments’ requirements. Sabah, a translator, said that she has learned the Urdu language from experience, when she worked with her father who is a Mutawwif.
She said that learning the pilgrims’ languages is important to provide them with the proper services. It is especially important when she visits pilgrims who are hospitalized.
Shadyah Ghazali, a Mutawwif, can speak five languages: English, Indonesian Basha, Malay, Thai, and Tagalog. She said that during her long experience in the business, she felt the great need of pilgrims to interact with the public.
She said that this can only be attained by the presence of translators. She said that there is a need to conduct training courses in different languages.
Aamnah Zuwawi, a Mutawwif, said that she can fluently speak many Asian languages, which has allowed her to easily communicate with the pilgrims. This makes pilgrims feel satisfied and content and highlights the need to train women as translators.