By Homoud Abu TalibOkaz newspaper
On a recent flight I witnessed a foreign air hostess struggling to come to terms with the seating arrangements of a large family. She didn’t realize how serious it would be for a woman to be located next to a strange man. The concerned felt even more frustrated that she did not understand what they were trying to communicate to her given the obvious language barrier.
I told my compatriot in the seat next to mine, “Don’t you think if the air hostess was a Saudi woman, perhaps such problems could be averted? His reply was a sharp and dismissive “You want our girls to work as air hostesses? How dare you!” I thought it wise to stay silent but it did start off an interesting train of thought.
In my mind I can’t imagine any problem with Saudi females working on airplanes. The planes are always full of passengers meaning it is a public place with no secluded places for suspicions to raise their ugly heads. Moreover we have thousands of qualified girls who are fluent in English.
The benefits to the local economy are also worth noting. The airlines benefit as they would no longer need to rent big houses on expensive compounds. Every Saudi air hostess will earn a hefty salary.
If we can broaden the conversation still further we can even employ our nationals behind the travel counters in the airports and ticket offices. Most of these jobs are the domain of women all over the world.
If some of us find such progressive steps toward a more egalitarian society too daunting, perhaps we can take small steps toward an enlightened future. I pray we do take them though as ultimately we are the only ones who will lose in the long term.