Women in Saudi Arabia have been granted the right to work as chefs in hotel kitchens, the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Labor announced Monday, departing from a countrywide policy. The announcement came amid a growing culture of cooking among Saudi women, many of whom have gained a following by posting images of their food on online social networks, reports Arab News.
The popularity of cooking has led several Saudi women to begin their own food production and delivery businesses. Despite the new hiring practice in hotel kitchens, women in the Middle Eastern country -- which remains one of the most oppressive nations for women's rights and freedoms -- are still banned from working as chefs in private homes, as Saudi Arabia continued to limit their overall job prospects in both related and different professions.
One hotel owner in Saudi Arabia told Arab News that because "75 percent of visitors at these hotels are foreigners," hotels "prefer to hire foreign chefs for their experience in preparing international cuisine," although the owner also said hotels that "prefer local food can benefit from the services of Saudi women."
In May, a Saudi Arabian food company held a culinary competition for women that was hosted by celebrity chef Summaya Al-Idrissi and designed to play into the growing interest of public cooking.
Mohammed Rafeeq, marketing manager for SADAFCO, the company that sponsored the event, told the Saudi Gazette that "the culinary challenge is yet another of our endeavors to enrich the cooking experience of Saudi women as they learn from acclaimed cooking experts.
Women in Saudi Arabia have been subject to some of the most rigid restrictions in the world. They are not allowed to drive a car or travel freely without an accompanying male family member, and they must ask a male guardian for permission to work, open a bank account or receive certain kinds of medical care.