22/01/2018 08:09 AST

Investors said fake eyeglasses and coverup businesses are the main challenges that face the optical sector in the Kingdom in meeting with representatives of the Ministry of Commerce and Investment on Saturday night.

According to Adnan Al-Humaidi, head of the legal department at the Ministry of Commerce and Investment office in Jeddah, the department is ready to collaborate with optical shops to inform about fake products if they provide a document stating that they represent the brand in the Kingdom and they manage to provide the differences between original and fake eyeglasses.

However, investors said it is hard to note the differences between fake and original brands. Thus they demanded that all fake brands should be prevented from entering the Kingdom. Al-Humaidi said the ministry can only monitor what has entered the Saudi market while preventing products from entering the Kingdom is the responsibility of the custom department.

Another issue that was raised was the proliferation of the sunglasses shops, which do not fall under the responsibility of the Ministry of Health and are not monitored by the Ministry of Commerce and Investment. "The problem with these shops is that they start with sunglasses, then they sell eyeglasses and lenses without any supervision from the ministries, and they are the ones who end up selling fake products to end users," said Mohammad Al-Bashawri, head of optics committee at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI).

While sunglasses shops work easily in the market, optical shops struggle to fulfill the requirements of the Ministry of Health, which asks for specialists in the shop, Ministry of Labor, which calls for Saudization, and other obligations set by the municipality, added Bashawri.

According to Bashawri the committee met with officials of different government sectors to discuss challenges they face including those related to Saudization, insurance, Ministry of Health regulations and municipal obligations in addition to Ministry of Commerce and Investment inspection tours.

He said that they are expecting the Labor Ministry to give them exceptions to employ non-Saudis in optical shops inside malls. He added that they would be collaborating with the ministry and the TVTC to train Saudis to work in this sector as optical specialists, technicians and salespeople.

Meanwhile, the committee announced that their initiative managed to distribute 10,000 eyeglasses in Africa in cooperation with King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center. The initiative "Give others sight" was founded by Aisha Nattou aims to include more eyeglasses shops and will be distributing eyeglasses to those in need in collaboration with local shops and charity societies.

So far 250 have benefited from the local campaign and there is a plan, in the second phase, to include second hand eyeglasses, repair them and distribute them to those in need.

Saudi Gazette

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