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Bobby Ghosh

The Monday Blues Come to the UAE. Will the Saudis Follow?

Riyadh won’t want to cede an advantage in business to its Gulf neighbor. But cultural sensitivities and demographic realities in the kingdom complicate ending the Sunday-Thursday schedule.

New hours.

New hours.

Photographer: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP via Getty Images

Now that the United Arab Emirates plans to switch to a Monday-Friday workweek in line with international convention, will Saudi Arabia follow? The short answer: Probably, but not right away.

The Gulf Arab neighbors, long the closest of political allies, are locked in a fierce economic contest, and the Saudis will be wary of allowing the Emiratis to gain an advantage from the calendar change. But Riyadh must reckon with complex cultural sensitivities and demographic realities at home.