Saudi Society Debates Keeping Shops Open during Prayer Times ahead of Shoura Consideration

A debate is raging on social media in Saudi Arabia about whether the Kingdom should continue to require by law the closing down of all shops, malls, restaurants, gas stations, and even hospitals during the call for adhan (Islamic prayer) and throughout prayer time, according to media reports.

According to Gulf News, Yahya Al Samaan, assistant president of the advisory body, on Sunday said that the proposal calling for keeping shops open during prayers “was being studied by the competent committee ahead of referring it to the Shura members for debate.”

Users on Social Media have voiced their opinions on whether malls, shops, and other businesses should remain open during prayer.

Users on Social Media have voiced their opinions on whether malls, shops, and other businesses should remain open during prayer.

Reports that the Shoura Council is set to debate the issue has ignited a discussion between users on social media sites, who are taking sides on the issue.

The debate touches on an interesting intersection of economic, social, and religious concerns unique to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

By law, shops must close, but some wonder if the law should be changed because there is no specific religious edict for it, and say that it is merely a holdover from more conservative days. A report in StepFeed published last year quoted several Saudis who debated the issue in public on Twitter, with some saying the many shops remain open anyway as the presence – and power – of religious police diminishes in the Kingdom.

Not everyone in Saudi Arabia agrees.

According to Gulf News, one person in favor of keeping the law said that the same people who can’t wait the 20-30 minutes for shops to re-open are likely the same people who “do not mind waiting for more than five hours to purchase tickets to watch singers such Kadhem Al Saher or Majed Al Mohandas. They are willing to stand without any problems or signs of boredom….Why is waiting for prayers for 20 minutes horrendous and intolerable?”