Saudi Arabia ends mandatory prayer-time closures for businesses

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RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA - NOVEMBER 05: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY MANDATORY CREDIT - "BANDAR ALGALOUD / SAUDI KINGDOM COUNCIL / HANDOUT" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) Yemen's President Mansur Abdrabbuh Hadi (R) and Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud (L) take part in a signing ceremony of 'Riyadh Agreement' between the Yemeni government and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)-backed separatist forces, Southern Transitional Council (STC) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on November 05, 2019. (Photo by BANDAR ALGALOUD / SAUDI KINGDOM COUNCIL / HANDOUT/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

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Within a couple of years, under the rule of Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud, Saudi Arab has undergone a drastic change. Popularly known for strict implementation of Sharia law, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is gradually shifting its policies, reflecting a socially modernized state.

The recent reform is ending the mandatory prayer-time closures for businesses, and allowing 24 hour functioning of commercial activities.

The purpose stated behind this change of policy is to solve issues of congestion and account for potential loss of income.

From the last 30 years, it has been a practice of business owners in the country to close their shops as soon as there is a call to prayer. While this practice was implemented in order to promote praying among people, there had been certain drawbacks.

The change in policy will now benefit the tourists of other religion as they will not be required to wait inconveniently for purchasing things during time of its need. Moreover, since the country has permitted foreign nationals to gain permanent residence of Saudi Arabia, it will allow the new residents to go by the fulfillment of their needs suitably.

Commenting on this change, Dr. Al Gaith, a member of Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council stated, “There is no legal base for closing shops for prayer after amending the bylaws of the authority, noting that forcing shops to close their doors and people to pray right at the beginning of prayer time, and to do this in a mosque, stands no ground either in Shariah nor in-law”.

This policy change is a part of Saudi vision 2030 which aims to diversify the country’s economy by extending its dependence on oil to other business aspects.

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