The Ministry of Labor has raided several women’s beauty salons since Nov. 4, a ministry official confirmed recently.
However, businesswomen here claim that the sector has come to a virtual standstill because of the exodus of expatriates,  and are now urging Saudis to take up these jobs, according to reports.
Mohamed Al-Manna, director general of the ministry in the Eastern Province, said women officers were involved in the raids. He said the government did not exempt beauty salons from the correction campaign.
“The inspection campaign kicked off in cooperation with the police, prisons and immigration departments and was supervised by the Eastern Province governorate.” He said the inspectors have been doing daily rounds of these businesses and have filed reports with the Labor Ministry.
Shaa’ Al-Duhailan, chairperson of the salons committee in the province, said that services have come to a virtual standstill, with many businesses now seeking skilled and unskilled employees.
She said businesspeople now want Saudis to fill these positions. However, Saudis need training to provide quality work , she said. The province needs at least 7,000 Saudi workers for the region's 4,000 salons and beauty shops, she said.
In addition, Al-Duhailan said the sector also needs women cleaners as required by the Eastern Province health department.
“The sector is required to maintain a high standard of cleanliness and hygiene to protect the health of customers. However, there are no cleaners in salons and beauty shops because [the Labor Ministry] does not issue visas for these jobs.” She said businesswomen have been fined because they used their housemaids in their salons. This is because housemaids are not allowed to work for salons even temporarily. She urged the Labor Ministry to be more flexible on this issue.
Al-Duhailan warned that many expatriate women, who are living in the Kingdom with their husbands, are now taking up these jobs by either working from home or going door-to-door to seek business.
She said these women often use the cheapest products and can harm customers' hair and skin. In addition, customers have difficulty filing complaints because these women hide their identities or deny that they ever set foot in their houses.
She said only 10 percent of women in the sector are Saudi. Non-Saudi women occupy almost 40,000 jobs , according to a recent study by the Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Mariam Abdullah, a businesswoman, said there is a lack of beauty training institutes in the country.