Weekend move highlights country’s commitment to change, say experts

Weekend move highlights country’s commitment to change, say experts
Updated 24 June 2013

Weekend move highlights country’s commitment to change, say experts

Weekend move highlights country’s commitment to change, say experts

The decision to change the official Saudi weekend to Friday and Saturday instead of Thursday and Friday was welcomed by the country's economists and businessmen for giving the private sector an extra day to work with international businesses.
Capital Market Authority chief Mohammed Alsheikh said the decision would strengthen the Kingdom’s economic position and bring it closer to international capital markets. “We have instructed the Saudi bourse to follow the new weekend from this Sunday.”
John Sfakianakis, chief investment officer at Masic investment in Riyadh, said: “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.”
He described it as a great step forward which aligns Saudi Arabia with the region and the rest of the world. “There are obvious productivity gains as the cost of misalignment has been halved,” said Sfakianakis. “I believe that the changing of weekend is a definite positive and very much in tune with aligning Saudi economy and market with the rest of the world.”
He said for many companies, the change would facilitate communication and coordination between Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world. “It would provide the advantage of having additional working days that match the working days of the rest of the region and the world,” he said. “All in all, it highlights Saudi Arabia’s commitment to change."
Ali Al-Ajmi, a former vice president at Saudi Aramco, said: “It will increase interface with the rest of the world; now things will move faster.”
Abdulrahman Al-Ubaid, a former vice president at Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC) — the world’s biggest petrochemical company — and now managing director of the Saudi Development and Innovation Group, said: “We expect the impact to be positive on the Saudi economy; we think our business will be easier.”
Abdulelah Saaty, dean of the College of Business in Rabigh, said: “This is the big decision that we have been waiting for a long time. We have been isolated from the outside world for four days because of weekends in our country and foreign countries.”
He said the move would help educational institutions in the Kingdom enjoy greater contact with international universities. “We are in a global village and we have agreements with other universities. Now we’ll get more time to communicate with these institutions as well as with our children studying there,” he said.
Jarmo T. Kotilaine, a regional analyst, said: “Obviously the change better aligns the Saudi business week with the rest of the world, not to mention the rest of the region. This should mean fewer delays in business deals.” Fahad Al-Hammad, vice chairman of the Shoura Council, said the decision came at the right time. “It is in the interest of the country since it brings down the number of days during which the Saudi market is isolated from international markets,” he said Ziyad Mominah, an economic analyst, said: “This change will stop the losses of domestic companies.”
Many of those working in the private sector, however, are eager to know whether the change will also include them.
“Not sure how private companies will deal with it. Cannot make Friday a half-working day or Saturday a half-working day. This might spoil the whole holiday thing! Firms in the private sector might make it mandatory to ensure holidays are Friday and Saturday,” said Wajeeh Abbas, an online reader of Arab News.
“We will have to say bye to Thursday and welcome the Friday-Saturday weekend. This will certainly take some time to adjust to,” tweeted another reader.
“Wednesday happiness will go away. I guess we have to get used to the change. Saturday used to be reviled, as it was the beginning of the week. It now seems that day will be Sunday,” said Sami, a Twitter user.
Another Arab News online enthusiast, Yabillo Yasser, commented: “It would be nice to spend the whole weekend watching late Friday night movies on TV.”
Some hoped the new revision for working days would also affect working days in the construction sector as well as in factories, and hoped companies will consider Saturday as overtime.
However, everyone seemed to agree that this will mean an immediate adjustment to their daily routines.