World News : Saudi Arabia has announced it is switching its official weekend to Fridays and Saturdays, bringing the kingdom’s working week closer in line with other countries in a move long desired by many of the country’s businesses.
Saudi Arabia, the biggest Arab economy, had been 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.
The surprise move, which will be applied from this week, was immediately welcomed by Saudi economists and businessmen as giving the private sector an extra day of alignment with international businesses.
“It will increase interface with the rest of the world, now things will move faster,” said Ali al-Ajmi, a former vice president at state oil company Saudi Aramco who now runs a project management business.
Abdulrahman al-Ubaid, a former vice president at Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC), the world’s biggest petrochemcial company, and now managing director of Saudi Development and Innovation Group, also welcomed the change.
“We expect the impact to be positive on the Saudi economy, we think our business will be easier,” he said.
Saudi Arabia is considering opening its stock market to more direct foreign investment in the future. At present, stocks move considerably on shifts in global equities and commodities
Although the world’s top oil exporter had discussed looking at the change in its weekend in the future, few people had expected it to make the switch so soon.
A statement on Sunday on national Saudi news agency SPA said the change, decreed by King Abdullah, will take effect as of this weekend, “for the sake of putting an end to the negative
effects and the lost economic opportunities consistently associated with variation based on work days between local departments, ministries and institutions and the regional and international counterparts.”
King Abdullah issued the decree following a recommendation in April by the Kingdom’s Shura Council, which advises the government on new laws, to investigate changing the country’s official weekend from the current Thursday and Friday. Reuters