Shorter workweeks being discussed in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia considers implementing a three-day weekend to boost job creation and work-life balance


Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development is exploring the possibility of implementing a three-day weekend to shorten the work week. In response to an inquiry on social media, the ministry’s Twitter account stated that they are currently reviewing the work system and analysing the possibility of extending the weekend from two days to three days. This initiative is part of the ministry’s periodic evaluation, in which experts will analyse ways to increase job creation and improve appeal of the job market for local and international investments.

The ministry has also dispatched a draft of the shorter work week proposal for public consultation via the country’s survey platform. If implemented, Saudi Arabia would become the second Arab country to adopt a shorter work week after the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The UAE launched a shorter week on January 1, 2022, and moved its weekend from Friday-Saturday to Saturday-Sunday. Under the new reforms, working hours for public sector staff and schools are only until noon on Fridays, and in Sharjah, workers enjoy a three-day weekend that consists of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

A year after the implementation of a four-day work week in Sharjah, a government examination found a 90 percent increase in job performance, happiness, and mental health of workers. The study also found a 90 percent improvement in job satisfaction among workers who worked shorter weeks, with 84 percent of respondents saying the new reforms helped them achieve a work-life balance. The move to reduce the work week has been hailed globally as the future of work-life balance and increased productivity.

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