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Douha Abdullah Al Otaishan: Saudi Arabia's First Female Head Chef

If there's one thing that makes a top-tier restaurant, it’s the talented chefs dazzling patrons with tasty, eye-catching cuisines that will surely find their way into the world of hashtags and reposts. When it comes to talented chefs, Douha Abdullah Al Otaishan is in the top tier, renowned for her culinary skills and knowledge in Saudi, Mediterranean, and Mughlai cuisines, and often referred to as Saudi Arabia's first female head chef.

As a child living in her hometown of Al Qassim, Al Otaishan helped her grandmother in the kitchen, an experience that perhaps gave the then aspiring chef her first experience in cooking. Before YouTube, she would sharpen her skills by watching VHS tapes, and even traveled to countries like Lebanon and India to learn how to cook the local cuisines. This was also due to the lack of culinary schools for female chefs at the time. As a result, she is quite capable of cooking meals from Syria, Italy, France, India, and Saudi Arabia.

By the time she got married, Al Otaishan decided to become a full-time chef. She set her sights on hotels, having been told by family members that her take on commonly featured dishes tasted better, but quickly discovered that the Kingdom was restrictive towards hiring female staff at the time. Fortunately, in 2015, she would get her first break as an apprentice at Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh, and then was hired full-time at Golden Tulip Andalusia Hotel in 2017. Ever since, Al Otaishan had become part of a growing number of female chefs in the region leaving their mark in the hospitality industry.

In fact, Al Otaishan had government support for her pursuing her career within the Kingdom. Not only the minister of labor supported her earlier on, in 2017, the Eastern Province Ministry of Labor Recruitment Director, Omair Al-Zahrani, made a statement that women were welcomed to pursue careers in various fields. 

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