Would you like your fries with a side of freedom? Saudi gets progressive with female-run Jeddah restaurant
A Saudi woman has established a restaurant in Jeddah in which all the workers, chefs, waitresses and administrators are female nationals.
The eatery only serves national dishes through delivery.
Maha Al-Shammari said: “I was amazed by the number of violations and dirtiness in a number of restaurants in Jeddah so I decided to establish my own restaurant in which all the workers were Saudi females.
“My first condition for employing any woman was her commitment to cleanliness and her ability to prepare food in a hygienic atmosphere.”
She said the restaurant serves only national cuisine prepared by Saudi women who consider food an integral part of society’s culture.
Al-Shammari said she wanted to prove to society that Saudi women were capable of preparing and serving the best food.
“Before I opened the restaurant, I subjected all Saudi women workers to rigorous tests which continued for about two months,” she said.
Al-Shammari said a number of her female staff were students who are studying and working at the same time.
She said: “The restaurant is only for outside catering. “We have a big kitchen in which we prepare the food in a healthy and hygienic environment.”
Al-Shammari said she herself is responsible for preparing Najdi food while a number of her colleagues prepared famous Hijazi dishes.
“We have a female cashier and a number of girls doing other jobs,” she said.
She said such projects would provide job opportunities for unemployed women, especially those who were sustaining their families.
“Helping women open their own restaurants will solve the problem of unhygienic eateries that are replete with violations,” she said.
Al-Shammari said her restaurant has attracted a large number of customers who come from different cultures to try Saudi food, which she believed should be served by Saudi hands.
She complained that she could not find a sufficient number of cleaners because many of her staff refused to take on this job despite the good salaries offered to them.
“The Ministry of Labor has refused to give us work visas to recruit women cleaners from outside,” she said.
She hoped all concerned authorities would support her efforts to provide Saudi women with decent jobs.