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So, Saudi Arabia has changed when its weekend is

The kingdom has decided what days it celebrates its weekend on.

Medina, KSA
Medina, KSA
Image: Medina, KSA via Shutterstock

A ROYAL ORDER issued today has declared Friday and Saturday weekend days in Saudi Arabia.

The official working week will now be Sunday to Thursday, in line with the other nations in the Gulf Cooperation Council, including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Previously, the oil powerhouse had marked Thursdays and Fridays as official holidays, with citizens returning to work on Saturday mornings.

According to the official SPA news agency, the development comes taken based on public interest and the kingdom’s international and economic obligations.

“The decision was also taken due to the crucial importance to achieve the largest homogeneity of weekly working days between agencies, governmental departments, national institutions, and their counterparts at the regional and international levels, and also due to the obvious interests and significant gains for the Kingdom, particularly in the economic aspects,” an official statement said.

The decree takes effect in ministries and government departments from next week, while it will be implemented by schools and universities from the start of the next academic year.

According to the order, it will “reduce the negative repercussions on economic and financial activity in the kingdom and make up for lost economic opportunities”.

Riyadh’s stock exchange, the biggest in the Arab world, is open for five days a week, but until now only three of these coincided with the working week in the world’s major financial centres.

The move had been previously rejected by clergymen in the kingdom, which follows the ultra conservative Wahhabi school of Islam, on the grounds that Saturday is the religious weekend for Jews.

Oman became the fifth GCC member state to make the switch several years after the other four members.

Additional reporting: © AFP, 2013

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