Mansoojat Foundation

Museum of Saudi Arabian Costume online

Mansoojat Foundation Workshop

Womens Welfare Center, Jeddah

The Mansoojat Foundation workshop was established in mid 2000 at the Women's Welfare Centre. It was a JISH (Jeddah Institute of Speech and Hearing) initiative to help women who had hearing and speech impairments find employment.

The Women's Welfare Centre provides Mansoojat with a room for free, and JISH covers the expense of hiring a teacher and transportation. The Mansoojat workshop is open 3 times a week from 4pm to 7pm and runs under the supervision and coordination of Salma Alireza who visits weekly or fortnightly. The main skill the women acquire is embroidery; they learn the exact stitching and designs of the various tribes of Saudi Arabia.

The Mansoojat Foundation provides all the supplies needed (materials, fabrics and threads). The women are paid according to the size of the piece they make and their skill level. The workshop is currently a mixture of levels ranging from those who have mastered the embroidery techniques to beginners.

The finished pieces are subsequently used by the Mansoojat Foundation designers on a wide range of items: art work, hand towels, place mats, napkins, abayas and tarhas (robe-like over-garments and scarves worn in Saudi Arabia), necklaces, bracelets, shawls... etc.

The women at the workshop also receive a % of the sale price of items sold with their embroidery pieces as a bonus. Some of the women who have gotten married or who are not able to come to the workshop work at home and bring in their pieces from time to time. Some of the women are still at school and will come on Wednesdays then take away pieces to embroider at home during the weekend. The total number of women who are part of the workshop constantly fluctuates, never falling below 8, with a maximum of 22.

The workshop has become much more than just a means of earning some money for the women; they enjoy themselves immensely seeing it as a place where they can get together to work, learn new skills, produce beautiful pieces of work demonstrating their own talents and efforts, as well as and form solid friendships with their peers. Once a month Mansoojat gives them the day off to use the recreational facilities of the centre.

Assia Khashoggi

Photos by Mona and Assia Khashoggi