Sunday, 2 September 2007

The Winds of Change Blow Forever Strong

Well, change IS afoot in the Middle East! The UAE moved to an official Friday/Saturday weekend last year, reversing an earlier decision that had explicitly laid down that government ministries and associated private sector organisations (such as schools) should follow a Thursday/Friday weekend. The move to enforce the 'traditional' weekend followed a long, slow de facto movement to a Friday/Saturday weekend by the private sector, principally led by media and ICT companies in the UAE.

The latest move to a Friday/Saturday weekend was very good news for those of us married to teachers. Now we have the same weekend and that's a nice thing.

Jordan and Egypt, lest we forget, have Friday/Saturday weekends, too (and Lebanon has Saturday/Sunday, just to be, euft, different). With Bahrain and Qatar having made the same move as the UAE last year, those following the 'old fashioned' Thursday/Friday weekend were in the minority.

So now comes the news that Kuwait has made the move, despite some localised opposition, to a Friday/Saturday weekend. And even business people in Saudi Arabia are, according to Gulf News' correspondent, pushing for the weekend to change.

Despite the assertion made by some that the change is pandering to the West (because, of course, the West gives a hoot what weekend we have) the new weekend preserves the Muslim Holy Day of Friday as well as giving the region an extra days' effective trading with partners in the US, Europe and Asia.

What's perhaps interesting is that the 'traditional' weekend that the new Friday/Saturday weekend replaces was in fact a 1 1/2 day one: Thursday afternoon and Friday. So, of course, many companies still continue to work the 'old' weekend - because they don't want to give their staff the extra half day off.


Anonymous said...

Mrs Saul is a teacher and the new weekend has meant a vast improvement to our lives as well.

People who had the Thursday half day were always the worst off. Weds would mean a night out, suffering at work the next day, which would inevitably stretch till almost five. Lack of willpower would then mean a late one on Friday and an unproductive Saturday.

Chris Saul

Alexander said...

The 'family' companies appear to have stuck to the old weekend. I can remember it, from days of yore, and boy was I glad to see the back of it - as you say, the worst of the weekend!!!

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