A number of Saudi self-made women went into business at tourism events in order to secure their income. This confirms the fact that women labor in any profession is a noble source of “security” from poverty and unemployment, enabling them to participate in the community and local development, in addition to stimulating creativity and responsibility.
The question remains, how can we invest all this energy throughout the year, not only during festivals and tourist events? How can we convince many of them, who have enough energy and are willing to join the professional labor force? Also how we can establish social awareness? Many scenes from the Heritage village, in Al-Ahsa summer festival is the answer to the questions mentioned above.
Palm Leaves as Family Livelihood
The palm leaves industry is the most famous craft in the Al Ahsa region and has been since ancient times. The reason behind that is because the raw material of this industry is based on palm fronds, taking into account that Al Ahsa contains more than three million palm trees in its precincts.
Madina Al Mraihel, 60 years old, sits for long hours every day, weaving the palm leaves in different shapes and sizes and sells them in the markets and festivals.
Um Tami and the Hat
Over 19 years ago, while she was only 11 years old, Um Tami with her small fingers, bore the needle and thread to sew hats and assisted her mother who was engaged in this profession for half a century. Um Tami is producing hats of different types, as well as many other products. Also accompanied by modern technology, Um Tami now is manufacturing cell phone pockets. Um Tami expressed appreciation for the Al Ahsa municipality to allow her to participate in the festival, which contributes largely to the marketing of her products.
Popular Traditional Food
Vibrant with energy, Hanan Al Sowailim receives her customers inside her small shop in the Heritage Village to sell traditional meals.
The meals are served on traditional seats that are covered with Al Areesh, made of palm leaves. Mrs. Hanan stated that she found a great opportunity to increase her income, securing a decent life for her children, through participating in festivals and tourism events.
Maryam Al Marzouq is a skilled Henna decorator, but in the Heritage Village she had the assistance of her daughter Eman in order to meet the rush of visitors at her store.
Most of the women visitors to the “Hasana Falla” festival were keen to decorate their hand with Henna prior to their departure from the festival.
Eng. Fahad Bin Mohammad Al Jobair, Chief of the Al Ahsa municipality and general supervisor of the summer festival, stressed that this action is consistent with the aspirations of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, to provide employment opportunities for Saudi women and men. He commended the efforts made by the SCTA to build strategic partnerships, especially with the municipalities, to implement its policies on the development of domestic tourism. He added that in this small Heritage village, which encompasses a vast history of Al-Ahsa, the municipality has allocated an appropriate place and time for a number of Saudi women in order to find decent job opportunities.
Eng. Abdullah Bin Mohammad Al Arfaj, Undersecretary of Al Ahsa municipality, stressed the importance of lifting some families out of poverty to productivity. He also stated that there is a plan dedicated in this respect, aimed at marketing the products of these families throughout tourism festivals.
Tourism and Municipality – A Successful Partnership
Mr. Ali Al Haji, the executive director of Al Ahsa PTO, described the job creation of employment opportunities for a number of Saudi women as a “bright image” for the success of tourism in our country for the development of society. He said it reflects a genuine partnership between the SCTA and Al Ahsa municipality, which led to a great success.