Nanotechnology graduate sells Shawarma in Jeddah’s Corniche



SOMETIMES things do not go as planned no matter how hard one tries. Nora Al-Ghamdi is a young Saudi woman who has a MA in nanotechnology from abroad. When she completed the program, she returned to the Kingdom confident she would quickly find a job at a university. However, to her surprise, she could not find a job and remained unemployed.

Nora did not give up and decided to work at any job that came her way. She then began selling Shawarma sandwiches at Jeddah’s Corniche. In an interview with a local newspaper, she said, “Each journey begins with failure before it meets successes except her journey which began with a MA in nanotechnology and ended on Jeddah’s Corniche.” These words show the huge frustration that Nora experienced. She has the right to feel frustrated. Who would have thought that a young Saudi woman with a niche qualification would end up selling Shawarma on the Corniche?

After her story was published in the newspaper, Nora became famous and several universities offered her positions. The MBC Satellite Channel covered Nora’s story in a report and asked the following questions: Why did the universities refuse to hire Nora in the first place? Why are they now competing with one another to hire her? What has changed? Most universities are in dire need of tutors in nanotechnology but why did none of them offer her a job before? I wonder how many more Noras there are among us who have graduated with higher degrees in niche fields. How many of them did not have Nora’s courage and decided to stay at home instead of searching for work? The university officials who hired Nora, the Shawarma vendor, confirmed that Nora met all of their person specifications and so they hired her. I still wonder why the universities where Nora submitted job applications believed that Nora did not meet their requirements.

Nora’s story shows the ugly face of some universities who prefer to hire non-Saudis even if the Saudis are better qualified. Some of these universities also, unfortunately, hire non-Saudi professors of Arabic language and Islamic studies from abroad although we have Saudi professors here.