BETTER RED THAN DEAD
Posted by Andrew Roman on February 12, 2010
I hate to be the bearer of bad news – unless, of course, it involves the defeating of Democrats and you happen to be one of those people who would find such news troubling – but for all of you entrepreneurs and moguls who had your hearts set on opening a little gift shop or flower store in Saudi Arabia, you may want to re-evaluate your strategy.
Nothing says “no” to free enterprise like Sharia Law.
Whereas in the business world being “in the red” is a financial negative, in Saudi Arabia, it has a far more serious connotation.
Saudi religious police launched a campaign Thursday to prevent hotels and stores from making any special preparations ahead of Valentine’s Day, celebrated worldwide on February 14.
Flower shops are forbidden to sell red roses. Toy stores have hidden red teddy bears and sweet shops put away the heart-shaped boxes they sell throughout the year for fear that the religious police might seize them.
‘Anyone who does not respond to our demands will be subjected to punishment,’ announced the police spokesman, known as the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.
This is not to be confused with the Department of Throat Slicing and Advanced Decapitation, which generally stays out of areas of commerce.
Each year, a few days before Valentine’s Day, the commission warns shops, hotels and restaurants against celebrating it in any way. They also increase their presence in public parks and places where young people meet, to catch anyone who breaks the rules.
While gift shops comply with these rules, sales are reportedly up by 50 per cent over the past few days, despite the increasing prices that accompany the celebrations.
A few years ago, Saudi Arabia’s top cleric, Sheikh Abdul-Aziz al-Sheikh described Valentine’s Day as ‘a pagan holiday.’
Keep your head up, Mr. Business Tycoon.
Don’t give up.
The Saudi business climate can still be conducive to creativity and ingenuity. You might try a kosher deli in Medina, or a strip club in Mecca.