x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Umm al Qaiwain may ban men working in women's clothes shops

Umm al Qaiwan may follow Sharjah's lead and ban men from working in shops that sell mostly women's garments, municipal officials say.

UMM AL QAIWAIN // Umm al Qaiwan may follow Sharjah's lead and ban men from working in shops that sell mostly women's garments, municipal officials say. Eisa Misbah al Fardh, the director general of the emirate's Economic Development Department, said they had scheduled meetings with Ministry of Labour officials after seeing how Sharjah, which plans to ban men from working in such shops by January 1, were dealing with the issue.

"We believe it's a good way for preserving female privacy and in accordance with our culture," he said. If the Ministry of Labour and the department agree on a plan, it could be put into action by the end of the year, Mr al Fardh said. Aisha al Obaid, an Emirati from UAQ, said she would welcome the decision, as she has recently had to go all the way to Sharjah to buy most of her garments. "The idea of women's privacy is so essential in our culture, I feel much more relaxed trying on the outfits I am trying to buy with the assistance of a female salesperson, yet if it's a man I would never even try them on," she said.

Maryam al Obaid, Aisha's sister, said she has felt shy shopping for undergarments in the presence of a male salesperson. If the policy is imposed, it would also create more jobs for women who need them, she said. In July, Sharjah announced it would ban salesmen in shops catering to women and gave stores a six-month period to implement the change. Although some shops have already hired women, in the Rolla souqs, owners of abaya shops said they were struggling to find female workers for jobs that are regarded as low-paying.

Zaid Khan, a Pakistani shop owner, said he planned to hire women from the Philippines or India who knew some Arabic. ykakande@thenational.ae