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Bahrain’s love doctor
A few months back, Kipp reported on the Gulf’s first sex shop. How does such a store exist in the region, and who are its customers? Atique Naqvi went to find out.
September 30, 2010 4:42 by kippreport
Khadija Ahmad is a Bahraini woman whose business gives new meaning to the term stimulus package.
Ahmad owns Khadija Fashion House in Manama, a prominent shop in a nice neighborhood that peddles stylish lingerie. But her store offers other kinds of inventory that more adventurous customers tend to enjoy: pleasure enhancement creams, vibration rings, leather whips, and even, ahem, edible underwear.
Sex shops are de riguer in the red light districts of Amsterdam, Paris, and New York City. But just how does a woman who describes herself as a devout Muslim get away with operating such a risqué store – in plain view, no less – in one of the world’s most religiously conservative countries?
It’s all in the marketing. “I know many couples who were planning to separate, but after using my products, they rediscovered themselves and chose to stay together,” she says of her marriage-saving devices.
The GCC’s population has a relatively high divorce rate, so a sex shop or two might not seem like such a bad idea – especially, as Ahmad claims, if the products she sells help keep families together. The UAE leads the Gulf with a divorce rate of 46 percent, followed by Qatar (38 percent), Kuwait (35 percent), and Saudi Arabia (20 percent).
Ahmad says the challenges and struggles of the modern world require something extra to keep the fire burning in a relationship. And that’s where these products can be of great help, she says. “Our products play an important role in spicing up lives of couples in the region.”
Ahmad started her business in 2008 using a small bank loan and her personal savings. The business has grown considerably since. The outlet made a decent profit in its very first year, but the businesswoman declines to give any specific figures. The response from customers in the region has been so strong that Ahmad is planning to open one more outlet in Bahrain and one each in Lebanon and Dubai.
When Ahmad opened her shop, she faced mild opposition from some of her family members. But she was confident that her business idea would become successful in a region where sex and sex-related subjects are not discussed openly. A recent poll conducted by a UAE-based news website reports that the majority of Gulf citizens still frown upon the use of sex toys. Most of the respondents (46 percent) to the survey termed such gadgets as “sick” and “overrated.”
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