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Female employment in hotels in Saudi Arabia and UAE

Saham Al-Ismail (Prince Sattam Bin Abdul Aziz University, Al-aflaj, Saudi Arabia)
Fiona Carmichael (Department of Management, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK)
Joanne Duberley (Birmingham Business School, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK)

Gender in Management

ISSN: 1754-2413

Article publication date: 3 April 2019

Issue publication date: 11 October 2019




This paper aims to explore barriers to employment, problems caused by working, motivation to work and job satisfaction of women employed in hotels in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).


The study surveyed 385 women working in 75 hotels in KSA and UAE. The sample included citizens of KSA and UAE (n = 177), Arab and non-Arab expatriates (n = 208) and women with and without caring responsibilities for children or adults. The survey responses were analysed by stratifying the sample, using mean-comparison tests to consider sub-sample differences and regression analysis to quantify associations with job satisfaction.


Women in the sample with childcare or other caring responsibilities were more likely to report work-family conflicts which were in turn linked negatively to job satisfaction. These women were also the most positive about flexible employment practices. Nationals and expatriate Arabs reported higher levels of satisfaction with managerial aspects of their work. However, nationals in KSA recorded lower levels of job satisfaction in relation to pay and conditions and also said that low salaries were a barrier to taking up employment in the first place. Negative social attitudes towards women working in hotels were a particular concern for nationals and expatriate Arab women.

Research limitations/implications

The sample is not representative of all females working in hotels in UAE and KSA, and the results cannot be generalised. However, implications include the need to examine the experiences of self-initiated expatriate women and consider women as part of a family system.


The analysis is based on original data collected through fieldwork. The findings generate new insights on the experiences of women working in hotels in KSA and UAE.



Al-Ismail, S., Carmichael, F. and Duberley, J. (2019), "Female employment in hotels in Saudi Arabia and UAE", Gender in Management, Vol. 34 No. 7, pp. 554-576.



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