The weekend in Saudi Arabia has officially changed. So instead of being nearly alone in the world and celebrating the weekend on Thursday and Friday The Kingdom has been bought in line with other Gulf States. Friday is the Holy Day, equivalent to a christian Sunday, so it remains “Sunday” but now Saturday becomes a weekend day. The King announced the decision yesterday. So next Saturday 29th June, will be a Saturday instead of a “Monday”. I am not sure if that means this Thursday 27th June is still a “Saturday” too. If it is, it means we get a 3 day weekend this week, so hurrah for that, but it may be my misinterpretation.
Some Saudis may not be so happy with the announcement as it has become common place for many to take a 3 day weekend. Other people will have booked plane tickets for weekend trips months in advance, but now that Thursday is a working day, may be worried how things will work out for them, and indeed mean that a vacation day has to be taken.
The announcement although seemingly sudden, has actually been in consultation for some time. The Shoura Council recommended the change in April. However there was some debate as to how long it would take to happen.
Despite the immediate inconvenience this is another positive change for The Kingdom giving it 4 working days in common with most of the world and 5 with the rest of the Middle East.
Getting away on a Thursday night, (instead of Wednesday,) our new Friday equivalent, may become crazier than it already is and Air lines will be bound to cash in as everyone in the region will want to travel at the same time. I can imagine that it will be a real headache for those who have planned Thursday events months in advance, I doubt that hotel, travel, and catering bookings can be rearranged very easily. Some venues book out months or even years in advance. Even some of our own air tickets will have to be changed at a cost
Although there will be disruption to begin with this is a great economic decision and yet another wake-up call that Saudi Arabia is open and ready for competitive business with everyone in the world.
But the reason I am really happy is because when I wake up on a Saturday morning it really will be the weekend instead of remembering that sinking Monday morning feeling.