Feminizing passport counters
By : Abdullah Sayel
If you are departing from Jeddah these days, you will notice a big change. Saudi women traveling abroad have a choice now, they can get their passports stamped in a ladies only counter. Every big change in Saudi Arabia has to start first either in Jeddah or in Dammam.
Seventy-four female passport officials are helping process thousands of check-out procedures daily. It is not just a photo-matching job anymore! It is a full passport official duty. Women traveling alone, who are uncomfortable with a male passport official handling their documents, now have a chance to finish the procedures easily.
Some readers might find the idea of separate passport counters for women strange. But this is the case. Strictly religious Saudis took to the media to explain their concerns about having their women’s passports checked by men who insist on seeing the photo.
The Ministry of Interior had to come up with a solution. They assigned women to check photos of traveling ladies. This, of course, led to the creation of full-time passport counters manned by Saudi women.
The writer is Media Manager, King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences.