Let’s Ban Everything

If I sound irritable lately, it is because I’m going through withdrawal symptoms. It’s been ten full days since I had shawerma for the last time. “Then go get yourself some shawerma,” you might say. Well, I guess you haven’t heard: shawerma is banned in al-Ahsa!

In a boneheaded move, Al-Ahsa municipality decided to ban shawerma during the summer. The whole thing started last year, when some people suffered food poisoning after they had shawerma at different restaurants in town. Following the incidents, the municipality issued an order to all restaurants telling them they are not allowed to serve the delicacy for the four months of summer (yes, summer here can last four, five, and even six months).

ShawermaI’m actually pissed off, not just because I can no longer have one of my favourite meals, but also because of the way the municipality is dealing with the whole matter. Instead of monitoring the restaurants to make sure they are following safety and health regulation, and then punish those who violate them, they go and ban everyone. They are punishing everyone. There are places that sell nothing but shawerma, and this decision would simply kill their business.

This type of collective punishment is easy for the municipality to inflect because the affected parties don’t have the means to protest. What could they do? Go to the municipal council? Please! Plus, even if they wanted, they can’t because they are not Saudis. You see, although these restaurants are owned by Saudi citizens, they are run by foreign workers. They pay an annual fee to the Saudi owner who does not care what the hell happens to the restaurant as long as he gets his money at the end of the year.

I’m really disappointed in al-Ahsa municipality. They have done some good work in building new infrastructure and improving streets and services. But this decision banning shawerma is just ridiculous. In addition to being irresponsible, it shows laziness on their part. They don’t want to do their job of making sure that the regulations are followed, so they go and issue a general ban.

If we are to use the (il)logic of our municipality, then we should close down restaurants altogether since you could get food poisoning from eating anything. While we are at it, we should also ban cars because they kill so many people. We might as well ask men and women not to marry or have children because, you know, they will die at some point. Let’s ban everything. That would make life much easier for many of us, wouldn’t it?

Read more:

25 thoughts on “Let’s Ban Everything

  1. what we can say :( ? i noticed that some restaurants still selling shawerma like hungry bunny in dhahran street , if you want so bad … go get it from there :p .

    and yes , i heard that even Mayonez is banned ! i don’t know , it’s maybe just a rumor .

  2. That’s just absurd!
    I heard about this thing before, and I thought “they’re joking, right?”
    I don’t recommend making Shawerma at home, because I tried it; yummy, but still messy. It doesn’t deserve the efforts~
    My best solution for you is to get some outside Ahsa (just the meat, without salad) put it in the freezer, and eat it within 2 days of preservation~

  3. Haha, shawirma is a seasonal fruit.. I mean food, now :)

    I remember they made all the shawerma makers go inside instead of being outside to reduce bacteria growth, it grows faster in the heat, but it is usually the greens they add not the meat that causes the poisoning.

    Oh well, another reason to travel to the nearest province now…. U think it will be shipped like albaik is shipped on airplanes out of Jeddah?

  4. oh dear. yeah, that’s withdrawal for you.
    but about the mayonnaise ban in sandwiches, a7san, they should ban mayonnaise from the planet altogether and use butter instead.

  5. اهلا احمد!
    انا لما قريت الخبر تفاجئات لكن هما حسب كلامهم في الجرايد انو يقفون شاورما السيخ.. و يسمحون ببيع شوارما الصاج. لانه كما ترى و زراة الصحة او البلديه ان جزء من الدجاج او اللحم الموجود على شوارما السيخ ل يتعرض للطبخ بطريقة جيده او جزء منو لا يتعرض للحراره كافيه لقتل البكتيريا. ويبدو ان معظم حلات التسمم في المنطقة كانت بسبب شاورما السيخ.. ع اية حال اخ احمد بدلها بفاهيتا و لا لافينوو ولا شاورما صاج! :) و تســتمـــر الحيـــــــــاة

  6. This is lame!….people at Al-Ahsa municipality are super lazy for sure!
    Even the people at the Royal Commission of Jubail-which happens so uptight when it comes to food- didnt do such a lame move
    Mayo on the other hand needs to be highly maintained during summer season which can’t be guaranteed in the restaurants here…I’m not a big Mayo fan anyway…

    This is so typical of saudi government official…they all have “his arm is broken? shoot him in the head!”…this U-turn is crowded? just block it…bunch of stupid kids made a hassle at a mall? screw’em all!..
    Try Falafel for a while….they may ease ur pain :)

    Cheers :)

  7. This one has me (relatively) speechless, though it is a wonderful commentary on the bureaucratic mindset. In fact, some people hold on to that all or nothing mindset in all aspects of their lives–more’s the pity.

    I shall say a prayer for you to the shawarma corner of my Middle East take out when I order my Shish Tawooh. :(

    Mayonnaise should be authentic, homemade, and used sparingly, on selected dishes, and only where there is immediate consumption or excellent refrigeration.

    Otherwise, well, food poisoning is soooo unpleasant, and empty calories are a longer term threat… LOL :)

  8. I agree. It’s such a stupid idea to ban EVERYBODY from having it. It’s especially unfair on the businesses who ARE doing the right thing by making sure it’s stored properly and doesn’t get contaminated… It would be a lot easier to just make inquiries about the specific restaurants where the food poisonings happened, rather than punish the whole municipality….

  9. And a food control could provide a lot of well paid jobs for saudis.
    But on the other side this could also be a new corrupt sector.

  10. Is there a similar ban on selling shawarma around the Haram in Makkah? There used to sell it in almost every shop, but now you don’t find any.

  11. Here we go, insted of finding a solution for this problem they take the easy one. There is somthing called “HACCP” system (Hazar Analysis Critical Control Points) to control hazardness and reduce the risk of Food Born Ilness befor it’s happened during the preperation process. In addition, they need to observe the workers safety action and not to be easy on them if they are cooking for all. Baning isnt the solution for that dont be lazy and do your job best way. This country will kill me soon :(

  12. Damn!
    I just read the word “Shawerma” and now I have strong craving for it :)
    I remember I was banned from eating shawerman when I was pregnant because it’s known to be the number one source of food poisoning.
    I agree with you. No one here wants to do anything, so prevention or banning is always the first thing that pops up into those heads. you see, the majority here tends to think of one unfair extreem solution to put an end to everything without actually thinking of the consequences.
    insult to Islam= boycut
    some male female problem= rigid punishing rules to all
    speaking your mind on the internet= block
    so why should shawerma be exempt from all this???

  13. I am from Al Ahsa as well Ahmed, I don’t share his misery though! I have long parted ways with Shawerma, the poisonous mistress! I think its been several years since I had one. To be frank I left it because it became a glorified commodity while its standards fallen into the pits. Seriously, I remember back in the day when a Shewarma sandwich had actual vegetables in it! Not Mokhalal, fries and mayo. It used to be a vibrant sandwich and a joy to eat.

    Ahmad, I have a delicious alternative.. next time you are in Al Otahim Mall, try a sandwich from Trios! I personally love their caesar chicken sandwich.. If only I could have it more often at lunch time.. I am having difficulties though with Othaim mall security.

    And since its about Shawrma, if I’d eat one right now, it would be louzains, used to be called fakhat lebnan, in Khobar.

    • I shall try Trios, although as you said Othaim mall security are being jerks about. They won’t let me in even during the morning where there is no one there.

  14. This happened in Jordan a couple of years ago, too. Is it that hard for a LOCAL government authority to implement sanitary standards for restaurants (or shawerma stands, in particular)? Or maybe get rid of mayo altogether, as I’m sure that’s one of the main causes of the food poisoning. (slaps palm to forehead)

  15. Good Stuff.. I think let us ban all rational thinking, so that when people in power issues something stupid, we just say Amen!…I may not agree with you Ahmad all the time but if you go out on strike for shawarma ban, count me in my kids in.. :)

  16. This is lame !! Shwarma not only it is delicious but also it is economical !

    When you look at how the way rules and regulations are executed here, you dream of seeing a civilized way or a way that benefits the general public. Instead it is always like this, either All of you bite the dust OR a just a “privileged few” …


  17. Off Topic–my email accounts were hacked and so some may have received a scam email about my being distressed in London, send money, blah blah.

    I did a post explaining it all:

    Email Accounts Hacked!

    Some have also had invites or messages from the same scam on Facebook. I have no Facebook activity. I am deliberately Facebook friendless!

    To anyone with whom I was in correspondence, and who hasn’t done so yet, please send an email to the new blog email address

    chezchiara AT yahoo DOT com

    or as indicated in the post itself.


  18. Hangover decisions….

    Here’s how it works:

    – lazy employee comes to official in the morning with a problem
    – official is hungover from too much drinking in last night’s party with the local business men
    – to avoid thinking, get rid of employee, not look like they are not doing anything, and ultimtely concentrate on shaking the hangover away; official makes uncalculated decision…

    A hangover decision…

Comments are closed.