You might think I was too full to remotely consider eating lunch or dinner after that buffet experience in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. You might be right…but still, local food was on my mind, so how else would I try some of it? By wandering, of course.
and when I say local food, it’s only a half-truth…
Enter Herfy, the largest fast food chain in Saudi Arabia, which also comes with a woefully outdated homepage. It was founded in 1981, and has branches throughout the Middle East. On the surface, it looks like a welcoming place for famished omnivores.
Oh, no! I happened to be walking by this old town location while it was closed for prayers. C’est la vie Saoudite. You see, save for government and bank roles, typical working hours are from 7:30/8am-noon, then closed for prayers, then operating again from around 3:30/4 until 7 or 8pm. Some tourist sites may have extended hours, but get used to seeing the “closed for prayers” sign, and bring snacks.
Think about it this way- the hottest times of the day (say, near Mecca) are usually between noon and 3:30-4, so the government is keeping your well-being in mind! /cough
If you’re already eating while a restaurant is closing (i.e. pulling down the curtains; locking the door; turning off lights), staff won’t kick you out; instead, you’ll either feel special or claustrophobic.
At first, I didn’t find anything too noteworthy— guest workers running the show, unhealthy options populated the menu, segregated seating for women and families. Wait…what? Looks like we’re going back to the future:
Yep, women and families had to sit behind this curtain. If you’re male and alone, whether or not you’re married, you’re sitting in front. Plenty of countries are guilty of similar actions either in their past lives or currently; nonetheless, it’s still a bit of shock.
Additionally, it encourages me to eat much faster than usual…
There’s my Herfy hamburger. I clearly asked for no mayonnaise; do you like the ironic condiments provided? It was ok, sure, but this post is meant to serve two purposes. One, that nearly every country has a way for you to make requesting seat belt extensions an life goal. Two, “welcome to Saudi Arabia” (مرحبا بكم في السعودية جزيره العرب marhabaan bikum fi alsewdyt jaziruh alearab).