Saudi Arabia Gets a New Weekend

Aligns working week with fellow Gulf states with Friday-Saturday move
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 24, 2013 6:52 AM CDT
Saudi Arabia Gets a New Weekend
In this photo released by Saudi Press Agency, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia attends the Organization of Islamic Conference in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012.   (AP Photo/Saudi Press Agency)

A notable change for working Saudi Arabians: The weekend will now come a day later. Its people had enjoyed a Thursday-Friday weekend, but Oman's recent switch to Friday-Saturday made Saudi Arabia the odd man out among the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council. The change to a Friday weekend start, described by Reuters as a "surprise," is effective this week, per an order issued yesterday by King Abdullah. Businesses are pleased: "It will increase interface with the rest of the world," says a former oil exec, and a Riyadh-based strategist notes that the move puts an end to "having just three working days aligned with the rest of the world."

Bloomberg sees something more behind the shift: the Saudi stock market. "It’s not official, but this is one of the things [Saudi Arabia] needed to do to open the markets for foreign investors," says a Dubai fund manager. Bloomberg reports that Deutsche Bank and HSBC have previously predicted that foreign investors could be given direct access to the country's $400 billion stock market as early as 2014. (More Saudi Arabia stories.)

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