In Taking Jobs, Women Take On a Saudi Taboo

Ben Hubbard – New York Times – Thursday, 05 December 2013 (originally published 02 Dec)

salesclerk dusting
A salesclerk dusted a display case at the Harvey Nichols in Riyadh. Image: Bryan Denton for The New York Times

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — The bearded religious police officers were not the ones who chastised the princess running the Harvey Nichols department store here when she decided to enhance the upscale shopping atmosphere with some instrumental lute music.

Instead, the irate caller accusing the store of anti-Islamic behavior was a frequent shopper, a woman who on average spent $13,000 per visit.

“Maybe I should get whale sounds,” said the princess, Reema Bint Bandar al-Saud, making light of the blowback that businesspeople in this intensely religious and conservative kingdom often face when making even glacial changes to How Things Are Done . . .

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