Two stories on Arab airlines and women: Egypt Air brought to you by Egyptian Gazette and Air Saudi from Arab News.
Egypt Air hostesses fight for hijab right
Some have justified such a non-constitutional rule as originating in instructions of the former First Lady Suzanne Mubarak, who did not wear the hijab herself.
Accordingly, all female broadcasters in State TV were banned from wearing the hijab and anyone daring to violate the rule would be prevented from appearing on-screen.
Similarly, EgyptAir hostesses, who decided to wear the hijab were forbidden to board any flight and were transferred to administrative work in the company’s different booking offices.
However, after the January 25 revolution, the female State TV and EgyptAir employees started calling for freedom to wear the hijab at work.
“I’ve been working as an air hostess for some five years. Five months ago, I decided to wear the head scarf but I was forced to take it off on getting onto the plane,” said Heba Hassan Abbas to al-Gomhuria Arabic newspaper.
Ms Abbas wonders what is the cause of the company’s insistence on banning the head scarf on its flights while other airlines such as the Emirate, Saudi, Malaysian and even British airlines allow Muslim hostesses to wear hijab.
Meanwhile, Eman Osman could not follow suit with her colleague and, insisting on continuing to wear the hijab, she was prevented from getting onto any flight and was demoted to being a land hostess.
“I believe that wearing the hijab is a personal freedom as long as it doesn’t negatively influence one’s performance at work. Besides, some Asian and European countries respect that principle and allow Muslim hostesses to wear it on planes.
So, what prevents a country such as Egypt, that has had a great revolution to amend past defects and to express freedom of faith and customs, from similarly respecting the right to wear the hijab?” asked Osman.
She has organised a series of strikes with some other colleagues calling for changing these harsh rules.
“Ironically, all Egyptian hostesses are forced to wear the hijab at the gates of the planes when in Saudi airports. So, we use head scarves when working on flights going to the Islamic kingdom,” said Maha Ahmed. Accordingly, she wondered why EgyptAir doesn’t allow the head scarf on other flights.
The air hostess added, “We don’t have any rules imposing or banning the hijab for any Muslim woman because it is a personal issue. Besides, in EgyptAir female workers, other than the air hostesses, are being allowed to wear it and even offer it free to them as part of the uniform. So why don’t we enjoy the same right and get a uniform agree with the Islamic teachings and remain elegant for this job.”
Meanwhile, Maysa Abdel-Hadi is one of some 200 EgyptAir hostesses urging the company to allow them to wear the hijab. “It is unreasonable to live in the country of Al-Azhar [Sunni Islam’s pre-eminent institution] and have to demonstrate in Al Tahrir Square or in front of the company’s headquarters to obtain our right to wear Islamic dress at work.” She noted that this is at a time when some other Muslim and non-Muslim countries allow their hostesses to wear it on their flights.”
Maysa has been chosen, together with Eman Osman by their colleagues, to represent them at meetings of the committee formed by the company to discuss this issue.
The committee came out with two suggestions, both of which were turned down by the hostesses. The first was that they wear Pharaonic dress and put on a wig to cover their hair, while the second was to wait until the company recovers its financial condition and can accord to pay for changing its uniform.
Abdel-Hadi criticised wearing Pharaonic dress on the grounds that it doesn’t suit work and noted that adding the head scarf to the uniform would not cost the company that much, especially given that it is provided with a suit for the land hostesses.
In this regard, the deputy Board Chairman of the Holding Company of EgyptAir, Hossam Kamal Abul Kheir has remarked that the company has considered renewing the hostesses’ uniform after the revolution.
He added, “However, there are two important points that should be considered; the first is that we cannot generalise the uniform between air and land hostesses. The second is that having a new uniform would cost around LE8 million, which cannot be considered today because of the economic difficulties the company is passing through these days.
Besides, it should be keen to protect the company’s reputation and position as a prestigious world airline”.
By Manal Abdul Aziz
The Egyptian Gazette
Over 1,000 women apply for 20 IT jobs in Saudia
An official from the company expected a huge number of women to apply for the limited number of jobs until the application deadline on Aug. 24.
The call by Saudia to women to apply for the limited postings has been welcomed by young women jobseekers. “This is great news, and it will definitely create a competitive environment,” said 26-year-old Noha, an unemployed university student in Jeddah.
“In general, vacancies for women tend to be limited here, and I plan to apply as it is my field, and hopefully will get the job.”
Many others felt this was a promising start and pointed to the sheer numbers applying for the 20 vacancies. “But it is a small start,” said Rawan Hasan, an unemployed woman in her 20s living with her family in Jeddah. She said she is planning to apply online for the job, although she thinks she might need more training to meet some of the specialist criteria.
“Submitting the application through the website will perhaps be the easy part. The interview and English exam might be the tough part to get the job,” said Rawan.
“Despite the fact that it’s only 20 or so vacancies I am planning to apply for the job in Saudia. I need to have a career and this is a good move by Saudia to open up to Saudi women,” said Abeer, a recent graduate from King Abdulaziz University. “However, I hope in the future Saudia will offer more job opportunities for women.”
When the company previously advertised 100 jobs for men it received 52,000 applications, Vice President for Public Relations at Saudi Arabian Airlines Abdullah Al-Ajhar said in a statement.
However, he said the company has future plans to recruit women in sections such as its medical, customer relations and sales departments, a local newspaper reported.
The airline has set 25 years as the minimum age for women candidates applying for jobs if they are bachelor’s degree holders and 30 years if they are postgraduates, Al-Ahjar said.
The jobs are restricted to Saudi nationals who carry an identity card. The applicant should be specialized in computer-related sciences, accounting, finance, statistics and administrative information systems.
An applicant should pass tests of English language proficiency at the fourth level and have a working knowledge of the language before appearing for a personal interview.
The successful candidates will be appointed at Grade 8 in the case of bachelor’s holders and Grade 9C in the case of master’s. They will also be entitled to medical insurance and annual housing allowance of three months' worth of pay. The national airline has very few women employees.
Unemployment among educated Saudi women is very high in the Kingdom. As a move to ease the situation recently, the government announced that 39,000 jobs would be set apart for women out of 52,000 earmarked in the education sector.
The government also has canceled the stipulation demanding proof of residence by women applicants for jobs in the Ministry of Education. Another move to provide more opportunities for women is the banning of male workers in lingerie shops.
By Arab News
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