Bahrain MP insists no insult meant by comments on cashier job rejection

Mariam Al Saegh faces backlash over remarks that past offer of work 'failed to fit my qualifications or looks’

Mariam Al Saegh made the comments at the national parliament in Manama, Bahrain. Photo: Council of Representatives
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A Bahraini MP has expressed regret over an admission she rejected a cashier job on the basis of her image and qualifications.

Mariam Al Saegh was criticised by politicians for the comments about a past Ministry of Labour job offer, which she made during a parliamentary session on Thursday. She said she refused the job because it did not "fit my qualifications or my looks”.

Ms Al Saegh issued a statement clarifying her remarks, saying she was proud of the national workforce and did not mean to insult anyone or disrespect any profession.

“The intent of saying ‘I don't imagine how my look’ was meant in ‘form and content’ as we are Bahraini citizens, students, graduates with university or secondary qualifications, being given a job offer that does not match the educational qualification,” she said in a statement published on her social media channels.

“I hope that we focus on the important issue that most young people who are looking for work suffer from. No one wishes to be a cashier, even those who just have a secondary education qualification, but their needs forced them to settle for much little."

Bahrain’s Minister of Finance and National Economy, Sheikh Salman Al Khalifa, responded to Ms Al Saegh's initial comments by praising all Bahrainis working across all positions.

“We respect and appreciate every Bahraini in any job and any profession, and greetings to every Bahraini who works as a cashier in every supermarket in the kingdom, and greetings to every Bahraini in all their roles,” Sheikh Salman said.

The minister said government employment plans not only included the recruitment process for new entrants to the labour market, but also job development for Bahrainis working in the market, upgrading their skills and trying to establish their career path through training and development.

 Kingdom of Bahrain,Saar, 26/8/2010. AlOsra Supermarket, Bahrain currency at check out. Photo By Phil Weymouth

After Ms Al Saegh’s comments on Thursday, several ministers took selfies with a number of Bahraini cashiers as a sign of solidarity, support and appreciation for their keenness to work and earn an honest living.

Sabeeka bint Khalifa Al Fadhala, a member of Bahrain’s upper Shoura Council, issued a statement denouncing Ms Al Saegh’s statement.

“When was one’s outward appearance a measure of any job?” Ms Al Fadhala asked.

Updated: January 13, 2023, 2:10 PM