Cabinet gives go-ahead for businesses to open 24/7 in Saudi Arabia

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Under a new law, shops in Saudi Arabia can now have the option to remain open 24 hours a day. (Reuters)
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Under a new law, shops in Saudi Arabia can now have the option to remain open 24 hours a day. (AN file photo)
Updated 19 July 2019

Cabinet gives go-ahead for businesses to open 24/7 in Saudi Arabia

  • Regulations and procedures will be developed and put in place to govern 24-hour opening
  • It is expected that a fee will be payable by businesses that wish to take advantage of the opportunity

RIYADH: The Saudi Cabinet on Tuesday announced that businesses in Saudi Arabia are to be given the option to remain open 24 hours a day.

Minister of Commerce and Investment Dr. Majid Al-Qassabi thanked King Salman and the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the decision, which he said would improve the quality of life in the Kingdom by raising levels of satisfaction among residents and creating new opportunities for the business sector.

He added that it has been shown that 24-hour trading can have a positive effect on the macroeconomy of a country by increasing demand for goods and services, stimulating consumer spending and attracting capital investment. In addition, he said, it can help boost sectors such as leisure, tourism, transport and communications, and it is expected to create new job opportunities.

The decision reflects moves being made by the Kingdom to support the private sector and entrepreneurs by providing the best possible environment in which to operate through the amendment of regulations and legislation, and the continuing process of economic reforms.

Saudi Arabia is also committed to reducing the unemployment rate from 11.6 percent to 7 percent by providing more job opportunities for young people in particular, supporting entrepreneurs, establishing large enterprises, and increasing the role of the private sector and creating partnerships with it.

Talat Zaki Hafiz, secretary-general of the committee on  information and banking awareness,  believes the decision to allow 24-hour opening is a positive move for the country.

“I think this is a smart move that will benefit the economy and reduce the unemployment rate, which is considered now to be high at 11.6 percent, but also to serve the needs of the public who are living in the country, tourists and people who are visiting for Hajj and Umrah,” he said.

Iyad Ghulam of NCB Capital, an investment banking and asset management firm, also welcomed the announcement.

“We believe it will have a positive impact on the economy by creating employment, increasing disposable income, and boosting small and medium enterprises and the private sector’s contribution to the gross domestic product. For listed companies, we expect restaurants to be the key beneficiaries.

“In line with Vision 2030 targets, we expect the relaxing of regulations governing business hours to have a positive impact on the overall economy by supporting GDP growth, reducing unemployment, potentially increasing consumer spending, and meeting the needs of a larger consumer base.”

Regulations and procedures will be developed and put in place to govern 24-hour opening, and it is expected that a fee will be payable by businesses that wish to take advantage of the opportunity. The decision of whether or not to open all hours will remain with individual business owners.

Khalid Abdulrahman, the owner of a large coffee shop in Riyadh, said that the decision could benefit certain businesses, including his, but a lot will depend on the yet to be revealed details of how the process will operate.

“It might affect us positively to open 24 hours during the weekend only, because most of the Saudi people stay up all night,” he said. “This depends on whether we get to choose the days to open around the clock.”

Ahmed Mushtaq who runs Sohoby, a business-technology provider in Jeddah, said that it could give his employees more flexibility in choosing preferable working hours.

“As all of them are hard workers, some do prefer working during night hours as they can be focused and achieve more,” he said. “With this decision, employees’ working hours will be more flexible, especially for those who wish to work during late hours and spend more time with their families during the day.”

The Cabinet said that its decision takes into account the security and social needs of the community, particularly at night, and also weather requirements, especially those designed to cope with high temperatures during the summer.


GCC summit calls for greater economic integration among Gulf countries 

Updated 10 December 2019

GCC summit calls for greater economic integration among Gulf countries 

  • Heads of the delegations land in Riyadh before the 40th Supreme Council meeting gets under way
  • King Salman tells the summit that the GCC has overcome many crises in its history

RIYADH: The GCC summit called for greater regional economic integration as the meeting chaired by King Salman came to a close in Riyadh on Tuesday.

The final statement, read by GCC General Secretary Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, called for finalizing legislation for financial and monetary unity by 2025, according to the meeting's final communique.

The statement also called for boosting military and security cooperation to maintain regional security.

The 40th Supreme Council meeting was chaired by King Salman, who met the heads of each delegation as they landed.

They included the UAE Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, Oman's Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers Fahd bin Mahmoud Al-Said and Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani.

In his opening remarks, King Salman said the GCC had managed to overcome many crises that the region has faced.

At a preparatory meeting on Monday, Gulf foreign ministers approved the nomination of former Kuwaiti Finance Minister Nayef Al-Hajraf as the next secretary-general of the GCC.

His term will begin in April 2020 following the end of Al-Zayani’s term.