Sandwiches and a Safe Space: A Gaza Restaurant Run by Women, for Women


Join now for FREE unlimited access to

GAZA, Sept 12 (Reuters) – A Palestinian woman has fulfilled her dream of becoming a chef in the male-dominated Gaza Strip thanks to a new restaurant where she runs an all-female team that caters to an all-female clientele.

Opened last month and offering light fare like chicken sandwiches and pizza, “Sabaia VIP” is doing good business in a conservative, congested enclave where some women complain of a lack of private and safe places for recreation.

The chef, Amena Al-Hayek, was trained in a hotel restaurant where she worked for free. Although there were openings there for new chefs, she was never considered.

Join now for FREE unlimited access to

“The administration (rejected me). They said they wanted a male leader, not a female,” Hayek told Reuters.

Sabaia means “Lasses” in Arabic, a playful choice of words for a clientele made up of women of all ages – not men.

“The idea was born out of our need to have something intimate, where we could enjoy our independence and privacy, a place just for women,” explained owner Reham Hamouda.

Hamouda employs eight women on staff and others who prepare food from home. This provides much-needed income in Gaza, where unemployment hovers around 50%.

“We proved to the world that we were capable of opening a restaurant and being successful without the supervision of a man,” said Hayek.

Join now for FREE unlimited access to

Written by Nidal Almughrabi, edited by Ed Osmond

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


About Author

Comments are closed.