Female baristas challenge stereotypes in Saudi Arabia
“No longer do I feel any sense of inferiority," said one Saudi female of her job as a barista. (Albawaba.com/File)
Coffee-making and serving it at events and occasions is a profitable job for women. Unfortunately, the servers have to overcome the social stigma attached to such jobs. The coffee-servers earn a “steady and rising” income, according to those who work in the field.
Noura Al-Misfar, who runs a special training project for Saudi coffee servers or baristas, said the job was of recent origin. Many women in the past refused to work as coffee-servers because it was seen as “unsuitable” for Saudis and as socially degrading. That attitude has, however, gradually changed, and for the last several years, a number of Saudi girls have worked as baristas.
She said Saudi women no longer feel any shame or degradation but are working enthusiastically as coffee-servers and are convinced that it is like any other job if they get good pay for their work.
Al-Misfar said the team in her establishment offers training, etiquette and hospitality training, especially for events at which female dignitaries are present.
She added that the coffee-servers received salaries ranging from SR3,000 to SR4,000 with more for special occasions such as bridal receptions.
One of the servers admitted that initially she felt ashamed of her work and her worst fear was that one of her friends or relatives would find out about her job. For that reason, she refused to take part in any outside jobs during the first two months of her employment.
She said the director of her training project joined them and encouraged them in order to remove their sense of shame and inferiority. The servers then overcame those feelings.
She said her work involved various methods of hospitality and serving coffee and refreshments in an appropriate manner, boiling the coffee, tea and mint and sometimes covering the sweets.
“No longer do I feel any sense of inferiority. On one occasion, I saw a friend of my mother’s and I went to her and greeted her as I normally would. She was surprised but she appreciated my work,” she said.
Her colleague said she had decided to work as a barista after being unemployed for seven years. She said when she started working she felt great relief and that she got acquainted with many people through the job.
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