Saudi Arabia has allowed businesses to stay open for 24 hours a day by paying a fixed amount of fee which has created a lot of confusion about the prayer time closure requirement in Saudi Arabia.
It all started when Al Arabiya, the state-owned newspaper tweeted that Saudi Arabia has waived off the prayer time closure requirement. However, they deleted the tweet a few moments later. Recommended: 6 reasons to stop closing shops during prayer timings in KSA
The official response by the Government
An official subsequently rejected the idea that allowing businesses to remain open 24 hours has any impact on the regulation of prayer time closure in Saudi Arabia.
Khalid Al-Degaither, a deputy at the ministry implementing the change said that the cabinet decision “doesn’t include carrying out commercial activities during prayers and it doesn’t touch any previous decision related to prayer times”.
When he was asked repeatedly by the presenter if a shop that remains open during Salah time is violating the rules, regulations, and laws of Saudi Arabia, Khalid Al-Degaither decided not to comment on it.
What is going on these days?
Over the past year, many shops and restaurants in Riyadh have relaxed their approach, quietly keeping their doors unlocked during prayers or openly directing their customers to enter through side doors.
Similarly, I have personally visited some supermarkets and IKEA store which keeps one of its cash counters open during the prayer times and do not fully abide by the prayer time closure requirement.
What will happen?
A well-known lawyer in the Saudi community has commented that there is no law in Saudi Arabia which enforces prayer time closure but the requirements of HAIA. Since HAIA has become inactive in Saudi Arabia, the requirements related to prayer time closure is also nullified.
لا يوجد في المملكة العربية السعودية نص قانوني يلزم بإغلاق المحلات وقت الصلاة ؛ النص كان في نظام هيئة الأمر الخ .. وتم إلغاء النظام وبالتالي الغيت أحكامه (نقطة)
— عبدالرحمن اللاحم (@allahim) July 16, 2019
In my personal opinion, now the Saudi government will not be implementing the prayer time closure requirement rigorously. They have already relaxed the business environment as I have quoted above and will continue to do so.
The Saudi government will leave it to businesses to decide if they want to open or shut down their businesses during prayer timings which make sense to me at least and I believe that this is the way forward.