Saudi Arabia Changes Official Work Week To Sunday-Thursday, Weekends Now At Friday-Saturday
By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | June 24, 2013 1:32 PM EST
Effective June 29, Saudi Arabia will be observing a Sunday-Thursday work week, with Friday-Saturday now its official weekend days.
The change, contained in a royal decree issued by King Abdullah, the country's ruler, will enable it to better serve its economy in line with existing practices in the regional markets. Moreover, it is meant to stop "lost economic opportunities."
According to the official news service Saudi Press Agency, the change applies to all government bodies and monetary agencies, including the central bank, Capital Market Authority and stock exchange.
Until the change, Saudi Arabia has strictly observed a Thursday-Friday weekend, thus the only country in the Persian Gulf trading shares from Saturday to Wednesday.
The change "does improve the working hours for businesses with international markets," Morished al Mutlaq, executive vice president of Saudi Basic Industries Corp., one of the Gulf's largest companies, was quoted by the Wall Street Journal.
It "aligns Saudi Arabia's work schedule with everybody else," John Sfakianakis, chief investment strategist at MASIC, a Riyadh-based investment company, told Bloomberg. "It will make the Saudi market more aligned with regional markets."
Schools and universities will follow the changed weekend at the start of the next academic year, 2013-14.
However, the private sector has yet to enjoy the new change. The Labor Ministry said Fridays are the only holidays for the sector.
According to Hattab Al-Anazi, the Labor ministry's spokesman, companies offering a two-day weekend may switch over to Friday and Saturday. "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.
"Instead of having just three working days aligned with the rest of the world, now you will have a full team for most of the working week ... One extra day does play a considerable role in increasing output," Mr Sfakianakis said.
Those in Saudi Arabia's construction sector as well as in factories expressed hope the new revision for working days would also affect theirs.
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