Oman to shift to Friday-Saturday weekend

Oman will shift to a Friday-Saturday weekend to align itself more closely with banking and trade elsewhere in the world, its ruler Sultan Qaboos bin Said announced on Saturday.

At present Oman, like neighbouring Saudi Arabia, follows a Thursday-Friday weekend. But other wealthy oil-exporting countries in the Gulf take off on Friday and Saturday, and many Omani financial institutions including the stock market have already moved to that schedule.

The change will take effect on May 1, state news agency ONA quoted Sultan Qaboos as saying. He also ordered that the public and private sectors should take equal religious and national holidays.

The measures appear intended partly to help the government attract more Omani citizens into private sector jobs. Officials are eager for Omanis to enter the private sector to reduce pressure on the state budget, but many are reluctant to do so, complaining that working hours and other conditions are not as attractive as they are in the public sector.