I hate shopping here in Saudi Arabia. All right, maybe the word “hate” is a little strong, but I for one, just speaking from my own personal experiences, really do not find shopping here nearly as enjoyable as I always did back in the states. There are many reasons why.
First of all, probably the main reason I don’t like shopping here is because of my husband. Now don’t get me wrong, Adnan is a great guy. But he has pretty much always hated shopping. And now that we are here in Saudi Arabia, it is a very stressful ordeal for him to go through. He’s always in a rush to get out of there once we arrive (more on that later), and I hate being rushed especially when I’m shopping. I like to take my time and I enjoy looking at things. Not that I have to buy everything I see, but I just like to look.
Now Adnan actually didn’t always used to be like that, so anti-shopping, I mean. In fact when we first met, he used to make it really fun. I remember one time when we were at a large department store, I tried on a pair of jeans and came out of the dressing room to get his opinion. When I returned to the dressing room, the pants I had worn into the store were missing, so I ended up having to purchase a new pair of jeans since I couldn’t very well leave the store in my underwear. My overly dramatic husband ranted and raved to the poor salesgirl, “What kind of a place is this? You steal a person’s clothes so they are forced to buy new ones? Get me the manager!” Yes, it turned out that Adnan was in cahoots with the salesgirl, and my old pants eventually showed up again, and it was all quite hysterical at the time. But see, he USED to be fun to shop with!
Another reason I hate shopping here in Saudi Arabia is because of the store hours. All shops must close during prayer times. There are five prayers a day. The first prayer of the day is so early, it doesn’t really disrupt most business schedules. The other four prayers are at mid-day, mid-afternoon, late afternoon, and early evening. Many businesses just close all afternoon, instead of opening and closing several times during the day. Then they stay open until at least midnight or later. During Ramadan the shops stay open later to accommodate all the late night shoppers. The closing of the shops for prayers is why my husband is always in a rush when we are shopping. The stores will literally kick shoppers out of the stores, or some just lock shoppers in so they can’t get out. I guess I have had a difficult time adjusting to the crazy store hours here in Saudi Arabia.
All right, I admit I have never been particularly fond of grocery shopping since I’m not the greatest cook in the world. My expertise definitely lies in the eating part! You can find just about anything you want - or at least a reasonable substitute for - in the groceries and vegetable markets here, but there are some items that are scarce and very difficult to find. Short of going to several different markets, which my husband refuses to do, to satisfy my gastronomic desires, we end up grocery shopping at only one store, which may not have everything I may want. Like sour cream, for example. The Arabs simply do not use sour cream. They use some products that are similar, but they are NOT sour cream. I know that there are a few shops here that carry real sour cream, but we don’t do our regular shopping at those places, so I do without sour cream. Okay, okay, I know I probably shouldn’t have it anyway, but still, sometimes I would just like to have some sour cream - is that so wrong? Another thing about grocery shopping here is that in some things, there is just not a wide variety to choose from like I am used to. The health conscious diet hasn’t caught on here like in America and finding low fat items is very difficult. Plus if you’re counting carbs or calories, many products do not list this information on the packaging.
Since I implicated my husband as the main reason I don’t like shopping here, I guess it’s only fair that I’m truthful about my son and put him on this list too. Adam constantly whines about the intolerable heat, the unpleasant and pungent odors of the souks, about how he’s going to faint any minute because he‘s thirsty and hungry, or begs us to buy him yet another totally useless but expensive item that he doesn’t need. Regarding the heat, I tell him to imagine wearing a long black cloak and covering his hair and neck too! But things get even worse when my hubby has had enough of my son’s whining. I can’t stand being around either one of them when this happens. Heaven help me.
I decided to write this post because of a particularly bad shopping experience yesterday that frazzled me. So you've now seen a different side of me. The real Susie has been exposed! But I honestly think if these minor problems that I’ve cited could somehow be fixed, then shopping here in Arabia would be a much more pleasurable experience for me. There are bargains to be had, that is for sure!