Women and children sit at a coffee shop in a mall in Riyadh. A Saudi restaurant is imposing a wastage fee on customers who order excessive food. Restaurant owners say wasting food is against the principles of Islam. Image Credit: AFP

Manama: A Saudi restaurant has been largely praised for charging customers if they leave food on their plates.

Social networks have reported that the restaurant in Dammam, in the Eastern Province, imposed the wastage fee after customers ordered excessive amounts of food and failed to clear their plates.

According to the restaurant owners, wasting food is against the values of Islam that associate waste with the devil and against social norms that call upon people to think and behave responsibly.

However, online users said that the fee was a new “religious tax” that could not be condoned.

“Restaurant owners do not have the right to hold to account customers on how much they leave on their plate,” a user wrote, local Arabic daily Al Youm reported.

Sa’ad wrote that the restaurant should be held accountable for high prices.

“Some meals cost little to prepare, yet restaurants charge their customers high sums. This is unfair. This restaurant for instance is abusing people in the name of religion. I just wonder where the food that is not consumed goes.”

For Ahmad, the restaurant is seeking publicity.

“The owners could simply take the excess food and offer it to the people who are cleaning the streets or to those who live in the neighbourhood and do not have enough money. These limited income people would be highly delighted with such offers. It is obvious that the restaurant is seeking some publicity,” he wrote.

Abdullah suggested that the customers take the excess food with them.

“The restaurant should provide bags or boxes so that customers take away the food they did not consume with them. That way, there would be no harassment of the customers,” he wrote.

‘Great courage’

However, the restaurant’s food idea was endorsed by several users.

“This is an act of great courage that should be fully supported,” another user wrote. “People should be made aware of the consequences of wasting food. In fact, those who empty their plates should be offered a voucher for a free meal in the restaurant.”

Mohammad welcomed the idea as a good step towards positive thinking.

“Such a move should be emulated by all restaurants because we are turning into a nation that likes excesses. We all should learn how to live according to our needs and means, in line with the teachings of our religion,” he wrote.