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Saudi Women Seek to Break Male Domination of Airport Services | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Jeddah, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Arabian Aircraft Services Company (Arabasco) has broken the male domination of the frontlines at Saudi airports by hiring five Saudi women to work at the company’s counters that provide services to VIPs at the private terminal of King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah.

The women were assigned to female customer service, thus ushering in a new field for Saudi females at airports where the available jobs had been limited to female inspectors and security staff.

Established in the early eighties, Arabasco provides services to private airlines and aircrafts owned by companies and VIPs at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah. Ayman Suwaylim, Arabasco’s terminal manager told Asharq Al Awsat that around a year ago the company hired women to serve female VIPs as an initial idea, as women prefer to deal with female staff rather than male staff due to the unique particularities of Saudi society.

Suwaylim pointed out that the earnest and pleasing performance of the female staff pushed management to open the door to several other women. “The Saudi woman is capable of demonstrating her efficiency in all fields. This has proven to be true since we began by hiring one female employee and as time passed, we realized how satisfied female customers were and how serious and hardworking female staff has been,” he said.

He added that the successful experience prompted them to hire four more females, some of whom are college graduates from various fields and others who are high school graduates. All, however, have good computer skills. He said they seek to increase the number during the incoming period, without specifying a specific number.

Suwaylim said that this successful experience is an example that encourages the employing of women at all airports in the kingdom, particularly to facilitate services for women as dictated by the conservative particularities of Saudi society, a step that will provide a larger number of job opportunities and contribute to reducing unemployment among Saudi females.

Speaking to Asharq Al Awsat, the female staff at Arabasco terminal expressed satisfaction with the experience and said they were pleased to constitute the first group of Saudi females working in this field. “I have had so much encouragement from those around me, whether the female clientele who want to be seen to by female staff in accordance with the rules of Shariah and Saudi customs and traditions or from my family and friends,” said Asmaa al Sayyed, the first female airport employee.

Iman al Sulayman, one of the women who had the chance to take up a newly created post at the airport, pointed out that female customers described the establishing of a section that serves women as positive and necessary. She indicated that women considered it a bold step to facilitate dealings and that they hope other airports would follow this lead. “As an educated Saudi citizen, I’m proud to serve my country in any field that helps to advance my practical skills and give me the chance to serve others,” al Sulayman added.