(MENAFN - Arab News) The government's move to fully feminize shops selling women's accessories by 2017 has been widely welcomed.
Commenting on one of the websites, Saudi citizen Abu Ali said: "The numerous shops that extend along the streets of the Kingdom's cities and villages badly need to define working hours. The move will allow everybody, retirees from both sexes, persons with or without degrees to work accordingly."
Abu Al-Masakeen said that the move would reduce women's unemployment. He suggested stopping recruitment of foreign workers for these jobs in both wholesale and retail shops, or limiting the work visa period to only four years, and not allowing expatriates to return for work for three years after exit.
Abdullah Al-Shahri said the correction campaign did not bear positive results in Jeddah, as businesses run by expatriates have prospered more than before.
A draft statement by the Ministry of Labor said that all women's shops in the Kingdom will be fully feminized by 2015, in the third stage of the program. All retail shops, shacks and open markets dealing in women's accessories will be 100 percent feminized.
The Ministry of Labor said that such shops should correct status of work in compliance with labor regulations in the upcoming three years.
From early 2014, the decision will be applicable to shops selling perfume, maternity items, evening and wedding dresses, abaya and accessories.
All other shops selling shoes, bags and socks, will follow, and by early 2016, ready-made garments for women, children and men (multi-department stores) will be covered. All these will be feminized in addition to hairdressing and textile shops.
Waleed Al-Ammari, member of the textile committee at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), said that the Ministry of Labor should study the markets first, and be familiarized with the results of the first and second phases of the program as a first step prior to the approval of the drafts, as this sector occupies a big share of the retail business.
He added that the merchants agree with the decision of the ministry in this regard, and that they are ready and prepared to apply it. But they argue that the feminization process during the first and second phases still suffers from shortage of staff if one takes into consideration that such jobs in the retail business do not meet aspirations of graduates, only those with a high school degree who face severe family situations, including divorced and widowed women.
According to him, the shops that are still open have decreased the number of their branches because of labor shortage. He wondered about the situation when the rest of the sector is feminized.