Saudi Shura to discuss weekend switch
A study on the merits of switching the weekend in Saudi Arabia from Thursday-Friday to Friday-Saturday will be taken by the Shura Council on Sunday.
The issue, which has been gathering steam since it was floated, will be discussed with the minister of civil service, Abdul Rahman Al Barrak, Saudi daily Okaz reported on Saturday.
The government minister will give his input on several issues relating to ministry’s strategy and the status of public sector employees in the kingdom, including the weekend and administrative and financial promotions, the daily said.
Issues raised by the consultative council that are still waiting for official comments will also be discussed at the session. These include imposing a mandatory health test on all new government sector employees to determine whether they are using drugs, Okaz said.
Saudi nationals and residents who have been monitoring the debate will keenly await the outcome of the session on Sunday.
Last month, the Shura voted to change the weekend by one day, with 83 members endorsing it and 41 opposing it.
Supporters have highlighted the benefits of the change. They said the change would be beneficial economically and socially for Saudi Arabia and address the issue of missing contacts with the rest of the world for four days.
They said that the move would align Saudi Arabia with fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE.
However, a Shura member said that the process could take up to one year to become a reality.
“Following the recommendation by the Shura Council, the civil service ministry will conduct a study on the issue in coordination with the relevant parties to assess its advantages and disadvantages,” Sadaqa Fadhil said. The Shura member said the strong support for the switch indicated the people’s interest in aligning their weekends with those of neighbouring countries.
The council has 150 members, including, for the first time in its history, 30 women. The call for the weekend switch sparked a lively online debate between supporters and opponents.
Oman was the fifth GCC country to move to a Friday-Saturday weekend starting on May 2 to align itself more closely with financial and economic activities elsewhere in the world.