Dubai, located in United Arab Emirates in the Arab region of the Middle East must be the most liberated Arab city in the world. With the free lifestyle we enjoy, we almost always forget that this is still an Islamic country until last Friday.
Friday is the holy day for Muslims so we don’t have work and school. We went for a stroll at the beach and by stroll, I meant, initially we didn’t want to consume the whole morning outside but Pristine had other things in mind. We made sand hills, dipped in the cold water (at least until our ankles only) and had lots and lots of chasing around. By 12:30 noon we were hungry and at the same time, the call for prayer from the surrounding mosques started to engulf the whole place.
We drove around to a Hardees (a hamburger chain) branch near a gas station to find out it was closed despite having a sign board that says Friday: 10:00 am – 12 midnight. An employee inside, concerned with the hungry looks on our faces, opened the locked door (at this point I was imagining he’s a giant hamburger) but then he said, “after prayer, we’re only open after prayer!”
I can’t believe we were shooed away. Prayer will not be over in at least another 45 minutes. M confronted him by saying your sign board says you’re open at 10 am on Fridays! Now do we sound like really hamburger addicts or what. In truth we rarely, rarely eat hamburgers but this time there was nothing at home and we were really hungry. All the other restaurants in town are still closed at 12:30 noon!
No point in discussing with the Hardees guy so we drove away – to nearby McDonalds. It was closed too. This is one of the situations and time when we realize that after all, we are living in an Islamic country where prayer times are the focal point of everything. Even meetings and programs/functions are stopped during prayer times (which is 5 times a day by the way).
So, we learned another cultural lesson – that when in Dubai and really hungry on a Friday, we need to go straight to the malls where the food court is always open and a fresh, hot burger (or any food for that matter) will be waiting, anytime, even on prayer hours.