By Mariam Al Hakeem, Correspondent
Riyadh: The Ministry of Labour won accolades from Saudi women for the steps being taken to implement the cabinet's decision to replace salesmen with Saudi women at all women-exclusive showrooms.
Welcoming the decision to implement Saudisation in lingerie shops, a number of women, who represent various sections of the Saudi society, cautioned authorities against any inaction in enforcement of the law on the pretext of not having sufficient number of trained women.
Last year, the Council of Ministers had decided to employ only Saudi saleswomen at lingerie shops effective from July 18, 2006.
Speaking to Gulf News, Samar Al Muqrin, a Saudi journalist working with Al Watan Arabic daily newspaper, said that lingerie shops cannot be treated like other shops as they involve privacy of women coming for shopping.
"Most women shoppers feel under stress while selecting items in front of salesmen. It is not only a matter of privacy but also that of physical and mental relaxation. In such cases, women generally are too shy to ask for their selections," she said, adding that most of the women shoppers are reluctant even to converse with salesmen.
According to Samar, she noted some shop owners used to hire young handsome men to attract women shoppers.
"These owners also give special training on how to please women with praising words and compelling them to buy the product," she pointed out.
Ommu Mohammad, a housewife, said that she never spoke, in her life, with any salesman at lingerie shops other than gesturing.
Welcoming the move to Saudise lingerie shops, Nawal Alawi, another housewife, spoke about a bitter experience she had while shopping at such a shop.
"Once I went to a lingerie shop together with my husband. While we were shopping, my husband received a mobile call and he began to talk with some of his friends. During that time, the salesman pointed to me that the colour of one brand of underwear would suit me the best," she said, adding that her husband got angry over the incident and abused him.
Nawal Alawi then decided not to go shopping at such lingerie shops and she preferred to buy such items while abroad on vacation.
Noura Mohammad, an employee at an elementary school in Jeddah, also shared her bitter feelings with Gulf News during her shopping at lingerie shops.
"Whenever I go to any lingerie shop, I feel extreme shyness and timidity, especially when the salesman approaches with items and comments about the best colour, design and the like? Many times, I really feel like running away from such shops," she said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Minister of Labour for Development and Planning Dr Abdul Wahid Al Hameed told Gulf News that his ministry will hire Saudi saleswomen at all lingerie shops across the Kingdom effective from July 18 as the first phase of implementing the Cabinet Decree number 120, Article 8.
The Article was introduced last year and gave all companies only a year's time to find Saudi women to replace their sales staff at lingerie shops.
"According to the decree, Saudi women will be hired at all ladies garments' and abaya stores as well as cosmetic shops by 2007 as the second phase," he said, while describing the new move as ideal, as far as women shoppers are concerned