Few weeks ago I was talking with a friend of mine who works in the HQ of the Saudi Hollandi Bank when he told me that squads of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice have been raiding his workplace lately. He said the commission were not happy about the mixed work environment there and demanded that the bank segregate men from women. At that time I thought the bank would ignore the commission’s calls because a) it is none of their business, and b) banks HQ’s have been mixed work places for years.
What do I know? Not a very long time after that incident, we read that an “unwritten” order to ban mixing of men and women was given to all banks. The order also demanded banks to allocate separate gates and elevators for women only. None of the local papers here reports the news, and AlArabiya.net which broke the story first do not mention who issued the order. So, as you can see, here we have an order that is unwritten and unattributed, and SAMA, which regulate banking in the country, is declining to comment. Female bank employees said the decision would negatively affect their careers.
I’m not shocked, that’s for sure, I have seen enough lunacy taking place in this land, but I got some questions: How on earth the banks are willing to comply to some unwritten order? How those affected by this can object to it? Why this applies to banks and other private sector businesses but not to Saudi Aramco, which is supposedly owned by the government? Can NSHR say and/or do something about this?
So much for promoting gender equality and empowering women…