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a Gaza restaurant run by women, for women

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  • a Gaza restaurant run by women, for women

    A Palestinian woman has realised her dream of becoming a chef in the male-dominated Gaza Strip thanks to a new eatery where she heads an all-female staff looking after an all-female clientele.

    Opened last month and offering light meals like chicken sandwiches and pizza, “Sabaia VIP” has been doing brisk business in a conservative and congested enclave where some women complain of lacking private and safe leisure venues.

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

    “The administration rejected (me). They said they wanted a male chef, 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 – and no men.

    “The idea stemmed from our need to have something private, where we can enjoy our independence and our privacy, a place only for women,” said the owner, Reham Hamouda.

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