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Government support urged for spa industry

BAHRAIN'S spa and beauty industry is growing, but it needs more support from the government, says a local entrepreneur.

Local businesses need help with marketing and promoting their products and services in Bahrain and abroad and the government could help with this, Spa Arabia president Betsy Bennett Mathieson told the GDN.

"Small and medium businesses are the backbone of the economy. The government is doing a lot, but the beauty industry has not been considered seriously," she said.

"I haven't asked the government for help and maybe there is support out there.

"It costs a lot of money to do marketing and trade promotions and in other parts of the world governments subsidise the costs.

"Perhaps the Bahrain government could do something similar and if the Economic Development Board does a roadshow it would be nice to be involved."

Ms Mathieson said several new spas were planned for the country and this was an important employment opportunity for Bahrainis.

She said the government could help Bahrainis and the spa industry by sponsoring training programmes.

"We need to promote education in the industry," said the British-born Bahraini businesswoman.

"Visitors to Bahrain would like to come here and have spa treatments from Bahrainis.

"There is a huge employment opportunity for Bahrainis, both men and women."

She said the Bahrain School of Sports and Beauty Therapy, of which she is founder and principal, conducted UK-based International Therapy Examination Council (ITEC) beauty and spa treatment diplomas, which were recognised internationally.

In 2001 the Labour Ministry sponsored 114 students to take a one-year ITEC Diploma in physio-beauty therapy at the school and this was an area the government should revisit, said Ms Mathieson.

She said all of her students passed the course and they were the only graduates in the Middle East to score in the top five per cent.

"My graduates were all employed before they entered the market and some have since opened their own businesses.

"The spa industry is growing all the time and there is always demand.

"It is a job for women and they don't have to compete with men and the great majority of the unemployed are women.

"Bahrainis should register their interest with Ministry of Labour and approach their local MPs about training opportunities."

Ms Mathieson was speaking on the sidelines of Beauty Arabia 2007, which concluded at the Bahrain International Exhibition Centre yesterday.

She was one of 90 exhibitors showcasing the latest products and techniques in beauty and skin care.

Her new brand Spa Arabia, which was launched at the Doha Asian Games 2006, features unisex skin and body products that contain indigenous ingredients from the Arabian world such as Frankincense, Myrrh and rose oil.

The range is designed for professional use in spas and for their clients to use at home.

"The spa industry is huge and each country, or region has its speciality, you have Thai spas, Indian spas with Ayurvedic treatments and the British spas with health farms, so I decided the world was ready for Arabian spas," she explained.

"Arabia has a wealth of culture and history in this area.

"Cleopatra and Egyptians used essential oils years ago and medicinal plants are used all over the world using mud, herbs and spices from the Arab world.

"Bahrain is known as the pearl of the Gulf and we will be producing products that contain elements of pearls that contain vitamins and minerals that help to regenerate collagen in the skin and give it a healthy glow."

The products will soon be available in Bahrain and later this year the company will launch a facial range.

A flagship spa, Arabia Spa, is also to be launched in the country later this year, with hopes for the concept to be franchised in the region in hotels, spas and boutiques.

The ingredients for the Spa Arabia product are sourced and manufactured in the UK, France, the US and the Far East.

However, Ms Mathieson's dream is to open a factory in Bahrain.

For more information contact Ms Mathieson on 39613739.



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