Saudi Arabia: A Self-Imposed Shut Down?

It’s been an unusual year in Saudi Arabia.  Or, is it actually just part of the norm?  The summer holidays started in June with the closing of schools which resulted in the travel surge of both expatriates and Saudis out of the Kingdom.  However prior to schools resuming in force, Ramadan began.  As a result schedules remained in flux with the Ramadan hours that went into effect.  The Ramadan hours were then proceeded by Eid al Fitr which had the holiday season continued for another week with the closures of banks, government offices, schools and many places of business.  During the month between Ramadan and Hajj, school was resumed in the Kingdom and life began to take on a semblance of normalcy.  Those expatriates and Saudis alike who may have taken extended holidays began to return to the Kingdom.  Yet again all too soon the Hajj holidays arrived and once again there was closure of schools, banks, business and another mass exodus both within and outside of the Kingdom as many chose to embark upon yet another holiday.  Hajj has ended and one may think it would bring on a return of normalcy at least until the end of the school year since the two extended holiday periods in Saudi Arabia are over.  However now the Christian holidays are upon the world which will have many of Saudi’s expatriates choosing to leave the Kingdom to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas with their families.  So in a sense, normalcy and full business as usual may not actually occur until January 2011.  How does this “self imposed shut down” really impact on Saudi’s economy?  On it’s education system?  On work ethics and “business as usual?”

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6 Responses

  1. It is certainly something. A few years back, I had the Eid-Adha closer to Christmas break. We were on the KSA scehdule in the UAE and we never knew unitl the last moment how much time we had off, even though our contracts would stipulate otherwise. For some or even many people, a lot time off is nice, but for me it was too much. My bank pretty much went to a grinding halt since it was both on the Islamic schedule and the universal bank holidays, plus more. On top of that , there is not much to do since hours are chopped.
    Yes, I think these long holidays affects the markets negativley and I do not think the simple Eid sales and travel industry is going to sustain it.
    Hopefully next year, it will be a little better as the Eids and others spread a little apart though. Personally, I cannot think of viable solution, but after a few days away from work and the slowness around, it gets boring—unless I am home visiting family and friends.

  2. One thing for sure, it makes it impossible to push any paperwork through. I had some woman at the Saudi Embassey tell me to call her back because it was almost the holidays and she was talking with her friend at her desk.

    I was like, uh oh…okay then.

    It’s like the DMV with a communication barrier.

  3. As long as Aramco is operational (the only money generating entity), the rest of the country could shut off and no one would notice.

  4. Expats may leave for Christmas, but except for expat run entities like foreign schools I don’t notice a change in business. Most foreigners don’t get time off at Christmas and work continues as normal. There are few on work contracts who can choose to go spend a holiday with family.

    One thing that makes me crazy that they do often, is several days into the school vacation the government (the King) announces they are extending the school holiday. What!!?? My kids are still home now! If I had known they would have such a long holiday I might have planned to go somewhere. Last minute vacation extensions make me bonkers. Just tell me what it’s going to be from the beginning please!

  5. Maybe unusual is the new usual?

  6. Yes; the short notice on the extension of school holidays can be annoying. We experienced that on multiple occasions.

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