Women fret as weddings approach and tailors vanish

An empty workstation in a tailoring shop in Jeddah.

Tailors catering to a female clientele are struggling to meet delivery schedules due to an acute labor shortage especially at a time when the summer holidays coincide with the commencement of the wedding season and most Saudi families prepare to depart for their native villages to spend time with their extended families.

The Ministry of Labor’s legalization drive has put a considerable number of tailors in a quandary as the crackdown on illegal workers has forced many to leave the country and those who remain are afraid to sit inside the shops fearing inspections.

Although many tailors work from home, officials are keeping a close watch on them. The MoL in collaboration with the police raided some shops in the Faisaliah district in Tabuk on Tuesday and nabbed 30 Asian expat tailors who were working from home supplying dresses to tailoring shops.

In Jeddah, the municipality is strictly following the guidelines for tailoring shops to have a minimum space of 200 square meters in order to be eligible to renew their license. This is hurting tailors owing to the high rents of shops.

In addition, the Labor Ministry has also banned the recruitment of foreigners as ladies’ tailors.

Against this backdrop, tailoring charges have shot up considerably compared to the previous year with a nearly 30 percent increase in stitching costs, according to sources.
“We used to charge SR500 for an ‘Al Aroosa’ gown but now we are charging SR800 or more depending on the urgency of the customer,” said a tailor who did not want to be named.

Many of the tailoring shops now have a single tailor who is loaded with customers’ demands of meeting deadlines, according to the tailoring community.

“I used to have three workers with me prior to the Labor ministry’s campaign but now I am left alone. I don’t even have time to attend to a phone call,” Mohammed Azhar, a Bangladeshi tailor in East Jeddah told Arab News. “I can’t risk having tailors who are in violation of sponsorship regulations in my shop,” he added.

A similar situation was observed in Kandarah district in Central Jeddah where Indian tailors said that while they were doing brisk business owing to the high demand for dresses, they were short of workers.

An upsurge in the number of Saudi weddings is traditionally seen in the weeks ahead of Ramadan than at other times of the year, and fine dressing is a major part of all Saudi weddings. Women pay special attention to dressing colorfully for parties. It is common for a Saudi woman to buy a traditional Al-Aroosa gown each time she attends a wedding.





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