Saudi women working in hotels garnering ‘respect’

Until a few years ago, women in such jobs were frowned upon by many members of society

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A group of Saudi women who have been working in the hotel industry said the stigma attached to women in this field is disappearing, Al-Hayat daily reported.

Until a few years ago, women in such jobs were frowned upon by many members of society. As a result, few women worked in the hotel industry because of fears that they would find it difficult to get married as most men disapproved of marrying hotel employees, especially receptionists.

However, the past four years have seen a gradual shift in the negative views associated with hotel industry jobs, thanks to the Ministry of Labor’s laws requiring hotels to hire more women.

Foaz Al-Zahrani, director of marketing for a hotel in Dammam, said women working in the hospitality industry are viewed with more respect today as they have shown to the world they can be trustworthy and professional. “No doubt the ministry’s regulations have helped in changing the negative view on us,” Al-Zahrani said.

She said women who work at hotels get to meet different types of people from all walks of life, something that improves their people skills.

“We get to work side by side with different male colleagues and learn about the way they think and behave. This helps us learn things we wouldn’t have learned had we stayed at home,” Al-Zahrani said.

Mona Badawood, a hotel receptionist, agreed with Al-Zahrani and said people’s views on women working in hotels is changing.

“In the past, if you had told someone you were a hotel receptionist, they would jump to conclusions and think you didn’t have a good reputation as a woman. After all, we live in a conservative society. Today, everything has changed because of the new regulations, which had a profound effect on the way people look at us,” Badawood said.

Basim Al-Nahari, a human resources manager at a hotel here, said hiring women in the hotel industry has been a good opportunity to remove negative stigmas attached to women who choose to work in this field.

“The chances women find jobs at hotels are bigger now than they used to be. Besides, women tend to stay longer in these types of jobs, which encourages hotels to hire them,” Al-Nahari said.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on Nov.23, 2014.

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