Catering to their schedule: will the new 9 pm shop closure rule get Saudis to work in shops?
Saudis and expats have welcomed the move to close retail shops at 9 p.m., saying it would have a positive impact on social life and productivity.
The higher committee for regulating the working hours of retail shops has completed a draft law that will force all shops and sales outlets across the Kingdom to work anywhere between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.
The new law will take effect before the end of this year, media reports said. A six-month grace period would be given before its final implementation.
The regulation will exclude the central region in Makkah and Madinah, as the issue will be left to the discretion of the municipal councils in the two holy cities.
Work hours during Ramadan will also be left to the discretion of the municipal councils in each region, but should not be later than 2 a.m., with the exception of restaurants, which will close by sunrise.
Work hours of sales outlets that require opening around the clock will be decided by a joint committee consisting of members from the Labor, Interior and Municipal and Rural Affairs Ministries, one report said.
Abdul Rahman Al-Rabeeah, a prominent businessman, told Arab News that these measures would not have any negative impact on businesses. “This law mainly targets small shops.”
Al-Rabeeah believes that the new regulation would not affect opening hours at shopping malls. He also said that the law would encourage more Saudis, especially women, to work in small shops. Mansour Al-Shathry, chairman of the board of trustees at the Riyadh Center for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, also supported the draft law, saying it would create a suitable work environment for Saudi men and women and encourage them to work in the sector, leading to the nationalization of such jobs.
He said the new measure comes following the Labor Ministry’s efforts to nationalize jobs at lingerie shops, as well as shops selling various items required by women and children. “The law will remove one of the major obstacles facing Saudis who want to invest in SMEs,” he said.
Badr Almotawa, a Saudi political analyst, said the measure would have a big positive impact on Saudi society. “The present system of keeping shops open until late night has had a negative impact,” he told Arab News.
“Crime and road accidents have been on the increase and productivity at offices has been affected because people stay awake late at night.”
He said the move would also reduce electricity and petrol consumption. “People will also learn to make their purchases during the day instead of at night. It will also reduce assault rates on women.”
Almotawa wanted even the big shopping malls to be closed after 10 p.m. so that people would have enough time to rest and work with energy and enthusiasm the next day morning. “People need good sleep to maintain their health.”
Fuad Kawther, a Saudi engineer, also welcomed the move, saying it goes in line with the teachings of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). “The Prophet did not like talking after Isha prayer as he used to sleep soon after it,” he told Arab News. He said keeping shops open late is an excuse for youth to stay awake late at night wasting time and energy. “The body rejuvenates only at night,” he said.
“Late sleeping can hinder the repair process, which takes place between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. The body itself repairs the daily damage caused to skin by stress, ultraviolet rays and other forms of unsafe exposure. We have seen that people who sleep early and get up early often come up with innovative ideas that are useful to humanity,” Kawther said. Abdul Latheef Nadukany, a planning manager at a reputable company in Jeddah, believes the new measures would change lifestyle habits. “It will also bring about a new shopping culture,” he said, adding that companies and traders would change their marketing plans according to the new law.