Saudi Gazette - Elderly Saudi women work hard to make ends meet:
DAMMAM — The number of elderly Saudi women working in traditional markets is on the rise. However, this is not due to a shortage of male workers or an attempt to gain financial independence and social freedom. It is sheer poverty which drives these women, as working in traditional markets is one of the few means they have of making a living.
Some of these women at the traditional market here were approached by Al-Yaum Arabic daily to learn more about the nature of their work.
Fatima, who is 60 years old and has been working at the market for the past 15 years, said she does not like the job but has to do it to make a living for herself and her family. “I feel bored sitting here for seven to eight hours every day. The job is not demanding physically, but I spend a lot of my time away from my family.”
Fatima says she has to work as some of her five sons are dependent on her.
Another woman employee, Munirah, said she has been working in the traditional market for about 20 years now. She was 35 at the time of her husband’s death. After that her husband’s family abandoned her and her kids. She was then forced to search for a suitable job which led her to become a saleswoman.
“Some of my relatives did not like me taking this job, but I had to struggle to provide for my family. That’s why I have not quit working,” she said. When her children were young, Munirah says she used to prepare food for them and lock them at home while she went out to work. Despite being exhausted on her return she would not show it and pretended that she was strong for the sake of her children.
Another saleswoman, Umm Abdullah, 53, has been working in the Dammam market for over 12 years in order to help her family. She says "My husband is disabled and I have five kids. This job provides a living for us. I hope one day to have a house of my own where my family and I can live together."
Altogther there are 15 elderly Saudi saleswomen working at the traditional market in Dammam. However their work is made more difficult as the expatriate-run market does not have a public toilet for women.
This is for those people who think all Gulf arabs are rich and have oil wells in their backyards. In reality there are poor citizens in every GCC country, even Kuwait. Shocked?