Alaa Alghamdi on moving Saudi Arabia’s weekend from Thursday-Friday to Friday-Saturday:
Of course, it is important that we carefully examine our own motivations in making such a change. Just as it is not productive to shun all changes in customs, it is not beneficial to us to rush into them. If the motivation is merely or primarily to conform to Western standards, we might find ourselves disappointed or in a position to fulfill the fears of those who worry that the one-day shift is just the first part of a slippery slope. In 10 years’ time, will we be contemplating a further movement of our weekend to Saturdays and Sundays? And what about national and religious holidays — will those have to ‘line up’ as well? Obviously, there is a point at which the price for conformity might be too high. On the other hand, I personally don’t believe that the proposed one-day shift has such dramatic connotations — rather, it is better viewed as a strong compromise.
Finally, the suggestion that by making Saturday one of our weekend days we are shifting over to Jewish practice is completely misplaced and speaks to a regressive form of paranoia. After all, with only seven days in the week, cultural observations are bound to overlap with one another with regard to the day of the week our days off are observed! We should not read too much significance into which days are chosen, but focus our attention on whether the change will be effective and beneficial, from a practical and pragmatic point of view that does not exclude sensitivity for existing practices.