Friday, March 13, 2009

Prayer Duration


If you live in Saudi Arabia, prayer time is a very important aspect of daily life there. Stores and just about any kinds of businesses close for prayers. Some PDAs now, and some cell phones that you can buy there have prayer time shown on their dials and screens. Otherwise, you can get prayer times from local newspapers. Your daily activities have to be scheduled around, and, in between those prayers. The best time to go shopping is after the second morning prayer, which gives you roughly four hours and after the last prayer which also gives you some 2-4 hours to shop. If it is not possible to do your business in those hours, then, when the prayer takes place, you should just sit down and relax, or you can go to a nearby hotel and wait until it finishes.
A natural question would be- “How long does each prayer last? “ If you ask the locals about that, they will tell you “10 minutes to 20 minutes”. However, keep in mind that while the prayer itself is that long, the actual time the businesses close for is usually 35-50+ minutes. People need to close the stores, walk to the place of worship, do their ablutions (washing their faces, hands, and feet), do the prayer itself, then do a few other formalities and then, go back to the store. So, yup! 35-50 minutes is the norm. Be patient and wait those prayers out in some quiet place if you do not share the religion of the people there.
Hotels are exempt from closing, usually, but even inside of hotels some religious people will sometimes shut the doors of gift shops and leave for the duration of the religious service.

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