JEDDAH – Women on the factory production line may seem a little odd in conservative Saudi society, but the time has finally come, and it is smelling good. Perfume, a powerful aphrodisiac that can lift one’s spirits, and Saudi women, who spend a lot of money buying the stuff, may be the right fit for the manufacture of the sweet smelling essence. Saudi women are now involved in producing the bottles of perfume that they and their sisters adore shopping for.
The first women only factory for manufacturing perfumes and cosmetics employs 60 Saudi women, who prefer to use their skills and capabilities to develop themselves rather than to wait to be appointed to jobs suiting their qualifications.
Four years after getting her bachelor’s degree in biology from King Abdulaziz University, Hana Al-Yahyawi was fed up with sitting idly waiting for a job.
By chance, she saw an advertisement in one of the newspapers about vacancies in the first factory manufacturing perfumes and cosmetics which was managed exclusively by women.
She became a production line supervisor with 60 other women running the factory for international brands of perfumes and cosmetics.
Al-Yahyawi was able to develop her skills and talents by working in the factory. After initial training, she worked as a production line supervisor with a monthly salary of SR4500, hence beginning a new episode in her life by increasing her creativity and discovering her abilities.
The factory is an experiment offering opportunities for Saudi women to be employed in the production line, and to be involved in packing, wrapping, security and monitoring. The women, whose qualifications range from intermediate and secondary school certificates to university degrees, have succeeded in proving themselves after completing training courses under the supervision of the Employment and Saudization Administration of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI).
On a tour of the factory Wednesday, women were seen manufacturing women’s and men’s perfumes and cosmetic preparations including creams and shampoos that used to be manufactured in Paris.
Zar’ah Al-Maq’adi, a female secondary school graduate working as a production line operator, said that she found her job to be a creative challenge which opened new horizons for her. She stressed that the Saudi woman is capable of being creative and prove herself if she can find the appropriate opportunity, climate, environment and support in her work.
Hana Al-Yahyawi, said that her family gave her their full support and encouragement to work in the factory whose motto is: “Their cosmetics made by their own hands.” She said the factory has Saudi women working as production line operators, quality control specialists, supervisors, security guards and cleaners.
Nawal Ghunaim, a secondary school graduate working as a production line operator, said that there is a need to create more factories since such jobs are of interest to Saudi women.
Rasha Ibrahim Al-Howbani, a fine arts graduate working as a quality supervisor, said she preferred working in the factory to her previous work as a teacher in a private school. She said the beautiful smell of the perfumes and women’s cosmetics is enough for her.
Aisha Al-Mohdhar, a chemistry graduate employed as a production worker, is anxiously waiting to complete her training period in order to start working officially in the factory. She lauded the support and encouragement she received from her family despite the fact that she was at first apprehensive about accepting the job.
Aziza Al-Dowsari, a graduate of Islamic studies working as a production line operator, said she is quite satisfied with her work in the factory. She said working there gave her an opportunity to be creative and gain experience and more self-confidence. Al-Dowsari added that she would continue work in the factory to prove how capable she can be.
Rania Al-Amri, a chemistry graduate from King Abdul Aziz University working as a production adviser, supports the idea of creating production lines for women in factories to accommodate more women and create new job opportunities since Saudi women have proved that they are capable of excellent performance.
As for Amira Al-Muwallad, a chemistry graduate, she said that after searching for a suitable job for two years to help her family, she found a golden opportunity to work as a quality control specialist supervising female production line workers and ensuring the cleanliness, hygiene and quality of the product and its conformity with international standards.
Afaf, a secondary school graduate, said Saudi women are capable of participating in the economic development of the country through jobs suitable for women. She said she completed a three-month training program and that women who have been trained are more efficient and faster than men on the production line.
Qaissar Abdul Aziz Rashed, manufacturing manager in the factory, said the manufacture of perfumes and cosmetics is especially suitable for women. He said that the factory has available employment opportunities for all women because what is important is interest, seriousness and creativity in the job.
Rashed said the factory trains, encourages and provides opportunities for experimental work especially in the arts section that focuses on artistic work, design and innovation since the production and marketing of perfumes and cosmetics requires an appreciation of beauty and the ability to be creative and innovative.
Muhammad Zein Iftikhar, director of the factory, said the factory’s program upholds the Saudization of women’s jobs. It focuses on training women in a special institute and providing them with jobs. He stressed, “We have concluded that the experiment is a success and that women are 60 percent more effective than men on the production line.” He pointed out that work is going on to add new production lines and employ more women after giving them the appropriate training.
He said the production sites include departments, such as, those for the manufacturing and packing of cosmetic preparations by Saudi women, who manufacture international brands of cosmetics and perfumes.
The company has closed its factories in Paris and now manufactures its international brands in its factory in Jeddah. The first batch of Saudi female workers succeeded in breaking the psychological barrier by quickly absorbing the artistic, technical and technological work involved in the manufacture of cosmetics and perfumes. The success of the experiment has led to increasing the amount of production space for them, Iftikhar said.
He added that the experiment is being evaluated in order to eliminate any shortcomings so that in the future it can be expanded in order to employ more Saudi women. He pointed out that preparations are also under way to establish 40 showrooms for women around the Kingdom for the selling and marketing of the company’s products by specially trained Saudi saleswomen. – Okaz/SG