Saudi Arabia May Shift Weekend to Friday Start

Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council recommended a study to shift the country’s weekend from Thursday-Friday to Friday-Saturday, local media reported. The proposed shift will align banking and business days with most other countries in the region.

The Shoura Council, an advisory body that serves as a quasi-parliament whose members are appointed by the King, passed the recommendation commissioning a study to shift the weekend for civil servants after reviewing a report by the Ministry of Civil Service. According to al-Madina daily, 83 members voted for the recommendation while 41 members voted against it. If Shoura supports the change, the shift will require approval from the Council of Ministers before it gets implemented.

The Ministry first suggested a change of the weekend back in 2007, but the Shoura Council failed to pass the proposal. Members who voted against the change at the time cited Islamic reasons. “The proposal for changing the weekend is unacceptable in a country that rules by the Quran and Sunnah and takes them as its constitution,” said Mahmoud Taibah, then deputy president of Shoura.

However, members of the business community continued to demand a weekend shift saying “the national economy incurs huge losses that run into billions of riyals due to the weekend difference with the international community,” Ibrahim Badawood wrote.

Currently, only Saudi Arabia and Oman follow a Thursday-Friday weekend but Oman announced earlier this month that it will also shift to a Friday-Saturday weekend at the beginning of May. Other GCC countries start their two-day weekends on Friday.