The new Friday-Saturday weekend kicks in later this week, at least for government offices and banks. Schools, already on summer break, will follow the new workweek calendar in the fall, when classes resume. As the Arab News story below notes, the shift in weekends doesn’t have much effect on private sector employees, however, as they generally get only one day — Friday — as a weekend anyway. That could change, though, if the government implements a two-day weekend for those workers.
In general, those companies doing international business have welcomed the change. Now, instead of having only a three-day workweek overlap with businesses around the world — Monday through Wednesday — they’ll have four days on which they can catch each other in the office. Saudi ARAMCO says the change will “speed up business”; the Capital Market Authority says it will improve the Saudi economy overall.
It’s a Friday-Saturday weekend
A royal decree was issued yesterday changing the official Saudi weekend to Friday and Saturday, a move that will bring the Kingdom’s working week closer to that of other countries and boost international business relations.
Saudi Arabia, the biggest Arab economy, was the only member of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council to have a Thursday-Friday weekend after Oman shifted to a Friday-Saturday weekend last month.
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah issued a decree announcing the historic decision. The decision, according to the decree, was made to “protect public interest and fulfill the Kingdom’s regional and international commitments.”
All ministries, government authorities, financial institutions, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, the Capital Market Authority and the Saudi Stock Market will follow the new weekend from June 29. Schools and universities will follow the changed weekend at the start of the next academic year (2013-14).
The change, however, will not have a major impact on the private sector as the Labor Ministry said Friday is the only holiday for the sector. Those companies offering a two-day weekend may switch over to Friday and Saturday, Hattab Al-Anazi, the ministry’s spokesman said. “The move to provide two-day weekend for the private sector is still under study by the Shoura Council. Once it is finalized, the weekend will be on Fridays and Saturdays,” he added.
In its reporting, Al Arabiya TV also sees unalloyed benefit from the move. Not only will it reduce transaction costs for businesses, but it will help synchronize businesses ranging from the stock market to TV advertising in the region.
Economists welcome ‘long overdue’ shift in Saudi weekend
Ben Flanagan – Al Arabiya
Economists have welcomed Saudi Arabia’s decision to change its weekend days, a move seen as boosting shares on the local financial market as well encouraging international trade.
Saudi Arabia is the last GCC country to shift its weekend to Friday and Saturday, and commentators say the decision is likely to strengthen its economic ties both regionally and globally.
The kingdom’s previous Thursday-Friday weekend meant that only three business days were aligned with most of the Western world.
Nasser Saidi, former Lebanese economic minister and former chief economist at the Dubai International Financial Center, forecasts a positive economic impact from the move.