When you get frustrated with the traffic at your local mall, consider the behavior of Saudis during Ramadan, as explained in a letter to Victor David Hanson from an American living in Saudi Arabia:
The third week of Ramadan I ran into Mohammed at work. He looked haggard and exhausted, but still a bit more lively than most. “I’m starting to see dead people,” he said dreamily. Then he wandered off down the hall like a ghost.
I was beginning to see dead people too; Saudis shaking and shuffling to their desks to vegetate until it was time to go home and sleep.
Saudis have their own peculiar way of observing Ramadan. During Ramadan the Saudis flip their lifestyles from day to night. True, they do abstain from food, water, and sexual intercourse, during the day. What they deny themselves in the sunlight they more than make up for in the dark. Most Saudis gain weight during Ramadan. Like camels storing nourishment and water in the form of fat in their humps for long treks across the desert, the Saudis gorge on food and drink during the night for the perilous journey from dawn to dusk the following day.
Nightlife in the heart of the Magic Kingdom during Ramadan is frenzied. Shops and restaurants stay open until late in the morning. Some don’t bother closing until just before sunrise. Stores are congested. Restaurants are full. Traffic is bumper to bumper. There are Ramadan Special Offers and Ramadan Sells and Ramadan Drawings and Ramadan Discounts everywhere as stores vie for customers.
Aside from an occasional catnap before iftar (the first evening meal at sundown, when you break fast) and after suhoor (the pre-dawn meal) no one bothers to sleep. Sleep can be postponed until the weekend, when you can snooze all day long to your heart’s content, which is exactly what the Saudis do. On Thursdays and Fridays (weekend in this part of the world) during Ramadan the heart of the Magic Kingdom becomes one massive necropolis. Streets are completely empty. Shops are closed. Aside from police at checkpoints on the lookout for terrorists it’s as though the entire city has been abandoned.
One discernible impact of the lack of sleep during Ramadan is a tremendous rise in traffic accidents. Driving in Arabia is dangerous anytime of the year, but during Ramadan it is like playing Russian roulette, only with cars instead of bullets.
Be thankful our holiday behavior’s only minor-league insane.