Not only is the duration of Saudi Arabia’s work week under review, but the days to be considered the weekend are also under discussion, Saudi Gazette/Okaz report.
Friday is the Muslim holy day. Throughout much of the Muslim world, Friday is one of the days on which one does not work, though many have adopted the Monday-Friday work week. Most of the others have gone to a Sunday-Thursday week, including all of the Gulf States except Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Qatar, with Saturday-Wednesday comprising the work week.
This causes a disjunction when it comes to international business. At worst, the overlap of work weeks means that a business headquartered in Saudi Arabia has only three days of overlap with its branch in New York or Tokyo. If business needs to be conducted on one of the other four days, someone is going to be called back to the office from home. That’s not a great way to build employee satisfaction. It’s also a good way to lose business if you’re at home while the rest of the world is busily churning away.
There have been discussions in the past about changing the Saudi work week to Sunday-Thursday, but they never result in any concrete actions. Now, Saudi Gazette/Okaz report, there’s another move to shift the work week, but only for the financial sector. As that makes up a huge portion of the Saudi economy, it makes sense.
On the other hand, there are going to be problems when one part of a society is working while the other is relaxing. It will create difficulties for those in the financial sector who will be working on a Thursday while all local commerce is shut down. Eventually, the work week and weekends will have to shift together. Starting with the financial sector, though, will provide the wedge that makes it happen.
Changing the weekend for the financial sector only
Anmar Hamid Mutawe’ | Okaz newspaper
CHANGING the weekend has been a subject of top priority for the financial sector in the Kingdom for several years now. It is also a topic of discussion in international economic forums in which Saudi Arabia takes part.
Those who support the change argue that we lose four days of international financial transactions – more than half of the week – because the weekend in global finance is Saturday and Sunday while ours is Thursday and Friday.
Saudi financial firms, especially those dealing with the international stock market, lose a lot, not to mention the state itself.
Those who support keeping the status quo argue that Friday is a day of worship and of special importance to Muslims.
Therefore, being a Muslim country, Friday should not be touched. However, we can achieve a compromise with a solution that satisfies all parties.