Friday at the Supermarket in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

I was at the supermarket on Friday afternoon and experienced an entirely unique, Sharia (strict-Muslim-law) experience. Fridays are, of course, the holy day and similar to Sundays in the West. It seemed everyone from coast to coast (of the Red Sea to the Persian Gulf) was at the market this afternoon, stocking up, since it was the beginning of the holiday season in 4 days. Furthermore, women are not allowed to drive (or work) and since the men have Friday off from work, it was an entire family affair.



At about 2:30PM--45 minutes after arriving--I was putting the last item into my basket, and the PA rung to life in both English and Arabic announcing that in 30 minutes the store would close for prayers and everyone except families must leave. Well I took that as my queue that it was time to make a sprint for the door. So did everyone else and in seconds the checkout lines extended all the way back to the fish counter. Well, 2:45 came and went and I had moved no further than the end of the last aisle before the meat counter. As the clock crept to 3PM I hovered between the end display of Sahara Candy bars and where a checkout line would normally start. Glancing back, I noted the dozens of shoppers and carts still behind me as well. Suddenly the lights dimmed, the checkers scurried off and everyone seemed to let out a resigned sigh all at once. I debated between holding my prime place in line, hiding my cart in the freezer section and coming back later, or just forgetting it and taking off. I decided to hold my ground and wait, and happily, no morality police came and told me to leave. I even had time to get a McBeef and a McOasis from McDonald's afterwards.

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