Korean tourist complains about Saudi restaurants closing for prayers

WATCH: This Korean tourist is outraged at restaurants being closed for prayers... in Saudi Arabia
2 min read
26 November, 2019
The ultra-conservative kingdom recently opened itself up to tourists, but this latest video has some wondering whether cultural differences can be bridged.
A Korean tourist complained about Saudi shops being closed during prayer times [YouTube]
A video of a Korean tourist complaining about shops and restaurants in Saudi Arabia being closed during prayer time has sparked some funny, and furious, responses on Twitter.

The video is of a young Korean man filming himself in a largely deserted street.

"I wanted to have lunch but the restaurants were closed again. None of the doors are open," he says in the video.

He then points to a shop sign and says: "It is written there that the shop is open 24 hours but it is closed."

"It is driving me crazy. In Saudi Arabia they always have long prayer times."

"You can't go out for lunch or dinner. Do I need to buy something to eat earlier?" he added.

An Arabic hashtag (اغلاق_المحلات_وقت_الصلاه#), meaning "closing of shops during prayer time", is trending on Twitter in response to the video.

Many social media users shared similar complaints to the Korean tourist.

"I am tired of station workers which leave for the prayer 15 to 10 minutes before the prayer," one user wrote.

"It definitely distinguishes us and allows shop keepers to perform the prayer, but shame on those who close for longer than the thirty minutes they need to pray," another wrote.

Shops typically close during prayer times in some Muslim countries as shop owners go to the mosque to pray. In Saudi Arabia, shops must close during prayer times.

Saudi Arabia recently opened itself up to tourists as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's efforts to rebrand the kingdom as a modern, young and enterprising country, after for decades being associated with the austere conservatism of Wahhabi Islam.

Read more: Saudi Arabia wants to be one of the world's most visited countries by 2030

Saudi Arabia has launched a tourism visa programme to boost the number of visitors to the kingdom, after the economy was hit hard by low oil prices and questions over the future of oil and gas.

The ultra-conservative kingdom's visa programme allows holidaymakers from 49 countries to visit one of the world's most closed-off countries. For years, the only foreigners allowed into the country were mainly Muslim pilgrims and business people.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram to stay connected