Head on Down to Chop Chop Square

Riyadh is not really a place for your typical sightseeing tourism. It’s a business-only destination if there ever was one and is definitely the most conservative cities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. One of the most fascinating things to observe is the collision of tribal Whhabi conservatism with the modern technology and Western influences, but that being said you can still head down to Al Sufaa Square or Al Deira Square to witness a public execution. For this reason it has come to be known to many travellers and foreign observers as Chop Chop Square.

In Riyadh, the museums are boring, the golf courses blazingly hot and the shopping complexes are something pulled from a simulacrum of Philip K. Dick’s dreams. If you’ve ever been to Spain and balked at the thought of going to a bull fight, then heading down to the execution grounds may not be of interest to you.

Located next to the Grand Mosque and the Mutawwa headquarters, the nondescript expanse of cement is where each week, about two people meet their gruesome and public end as they are beheaded with a sword. If you are lucky you can also witness a public punishment, as Chop Chop Square is also where all judicial amputations take place. (Note: all public sentences are passed on men only, female perpetrators are stoned privately) Executions take place on Friday mornings just after the noon prayers. If you do go, expect a front row seat. Visiting Westerners (with a morbid curiosity) have been known to be taken to the front row and forced to watch the spectacle in its entirety, in order to further shame the condemned.

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