New Weekends!

2 Aug, '06

It’s not many times in a person’s life that a new weekend is declared, so we should feel quite privileged that our government has decided to implement a new weekend spanning Friday and Saturday, rather than the so far usual Thursday and Friday. This new weekend is set to start from September 1st, 2006 and I’m looking forward to it like you wouldn’t believe!

During my early life, I worked in a stationer’s/bookshop/art supply store owned partly by my dad and we worked a 6 and a half day week. We only had Friday afternoon off, and I used to be paid by a subscription to Tin Tin magazine! I later caught-on a bit and demanded money in addition to Tin Tin and was rewarded with a HUGE salary of BD30 a month, that’s just over US$100, a huge deal for an 8 year old. We carried on with Al-Taleb Stationary until the late 70s when its 4 owners decided to call it quits and closed it down.

Such a shame really, that was a piece of history and a lot of people, artists mainly, still remember it with tears of nostalgia, as it was their first touch with extremely hard to get art supplies which my dad – rest his soul – struggled to import from Japan, Belgium, Holland, Germany, England and other international points. Artists made Al-Taleb Stationary their regular haunt and stopping point, an informal place to talk art and solidify friendships. My dad at that time was still a teacher, so he was around only in the afternoons.

After Al-Taleb Stationary, my dad joined forces with his brother and another friend and started Arabia Glass & Mirrors Company. Unfortunately I didn’t join him there as I was far too busy being a teenager with a venerable afro, platform shoes, big collars, and “navy” flared trousers! Yes, the image of the venerable Michael Jackson in his early career comes to mind and it isn’t that much different from what I looked like at the time, save for his much darker features. At that time, we still had 6-day school weeks as we only took the Friday off…

But before the American Mission School (as it was called then, and is called Al-Raja School now) I was at the Sacred Heart which had even a more screwy weekend: a full day Friday and full day Sunday! Catholics, what can I say?

It was only when I went to university in Scotland that I experience a full and contiguous two-day weekend: it was a Saturday and Sunday! But realistically, the weekend was any day that we didn’t have an exam!

Back to Bahrain and my weekends were stranger than that Catholic school… I worked shifts, two days nights (8pm – 6am), one and a half day off, followed by two morning shifts (6am – 2pm) and immediately after that were two afternoon shifts (2pm to 8pm), and it carried on like that for 13 years until I decided that I have had enough of Gulf Air and left to manage my fledgling company.

At Computer Point we initially worked six-day-weeks, having only Friday off. (We exclusively sold Apple products then!) But of course nothing stays static. When we moved from a “shop” to an “office” as we started selling more corporate products exemplified by SGI we changed our weekend to five and a half days, having Thursday afternoon and Friday as days off, this is the situation we still use as our working week, an arrangement I must confess that I got really disenchanted with. My body (and my gardening) was telling me that it really needed a couple of days off in a week so that it can unwind and take care of itself…

Well, that time has now finally come. The government has decided, prompted by the Economic Development Board supported fully by the Chamber of Commerce (kudos to both for such a tangible step that people will remember them for) to switch and unify the weekend in Bahrain to Friday and Saturday.

Phew. About time! And I am really looking forward to that weekend.

Some of you might wonder why I didn’t just do it several years ago, as I own my business. The truth is, we have to respond to our customers needs, and as the government customers have Thursday and Friday off, while some of our private sector customers have Friday and Saturday off, we had to compromise and still keep our phones on throughout our weekend, just in case any of our customers require urgent support during their normal working hours. Now, with a unified weekend, we can join the human race as far as weekends are concerned!

1st September can’t come soon enough for me I can tell you. For a very very long time I shall enjoy two full days of rest… oh, but wait, our Saudi and Kuwaiti customers will still work Saturdays… DAMN! We have to at least keep our phones on for Saturdays just in case they need our assistance.

Still… better than a kick in the teeth!

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Comments (19)

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  1. Johnster says:

    Yes, it should improve productivity but I will miss my quiet Saturdays. I have a Friday/Saturday weekend. Where I work is half and half (depending on our clients’ weekends), so Thursdays for me are professional but relaxed at work and my weekend Saturdays are quiet as most people are at work. Well, I guess that’s the price we pay for greater efficiency.

    More interestingly, how are they going to do the changeover because either there will be a 3 day weekend OR people will feel they are being cheated out of one day?

    It reminds me of when an adjustment had to be made to the Gregorian calendar. Many centuries ago some bright spark realised that the calendar was several days too slow. So the authorities (church or Holy Roman Empire or whoever) decided to shift the calender forward by that number of days. There were protests in the streets that people thoguht their lives had been shortened by that number of days!!

    lets see what happens. I suspect it will be a long weekend for the current Thursday/Friday weekenders

  2. mahmood says:

    I think you’re right.. we love holidays, and what’s one more (in a lifetime in this case) going to do?

  3. Aliandra says:

    I was far too busy being a teenager with a venerable afro, platform shoes, big collars, and “navy” flared trousers!

    Can you post a picture?

  4. M says:

    “I was far too busy being a teenager with a venerable afro, platform shoes, big collars, and “navy” flared trousers!”

    “Can you post a picture?”

    Please don’t, because it will be more fun using our “imagination”. I’m betting those “navy” flared trousers” were really bell bottoms; just admit it!

  5. bahraini4eva says:

    Wonderful News. Both the Economic Development Board of Bahrain (EDB) and Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) should be applauded for their continuous efforts to bring positive change in regards to the financial sector of the Kingdom.

    God Bless Bahrain!

  6. zed says:

    why is every government decision always made to suit the economics?? especially since in spite of our good old capitalist ‘development’ and the allmighty fta, there are this more than 20,000 people unemployed and the fat cats just keep getting fatter?

    what i’m interested in is how we’re going to manage our new all-bahrain weekend crowd, i mean, for example, seef is already crowded enough on thur and fri (including our saudi-kuwaiti-qatari friends) and private sector saturday off kind of divided the crowd at public places — so now what?

  7. Ibn says:

    Ahh, Mahmood,

    …You have re-ignited an old theory of mine that I had about weekends!
    The way I see it, I dont understand why we have 2 days off, and 5 days work. If it was up to me, I would change them around a bit:

    2 days off in a 7 day week means 2/7 = 28.5% holiday time.

    What we should have, is:

    3 days off in a 9 day week – meaning we now get 3/9 = 33.3% holiday time!

    Thats an approximately 5% increase in total holiday time per week!!

    Think about it – would you rather work 5 days, and have 2 days off? Or work 6 days, and have 3 whole days off? hehehe – I opt for the latter! 🙂

    -Ibn

  8. Anonymous says:

    Finally!!

  9. chrisamillion says:

    Thats really exciting! I wish I was there for it!

  10. The Joker says:

    I always felt I was part of a privileged echelon that had fridays and saturdays off. Now everyone does.. I don’t feel that special anymore ;(

    On the other hand.. the benefit is the roads won’t as crowded on weekends… since by the time people go out friday evenings, Saudis are about ready to head back.

  11. LiB Team says:

    Regardless of everything, I think it’s about damn time the unified the weekends. I know roads are packed and now that it’s unified the locals will overcrowd the roads again, but hey, it’s rush hour every hour in Bahrain! I think it’s about time cuz socially, a lot of couples have been separated by this split weekend which made outings a bit harder than when we all had unified weekennds. But what I like the most that this decision came as a slap to those who hate change. The dinosaurs in the government sector who will go retarded (retired) in a year or two are the most opposing to this! Come on! You will be leaving anyways. And those who already had unified weekends didn’t give a damn cuz they are already united with their loved ones. It’s about damn time. Good call 😀

    We have already highlighted that in the bottom of our “Anger Inc” article!

  12. Jonathan says:

    Only one question:
    Is it legal to work during the weekend, though?
    Since if it is prohibited, i don’t know if it’s a good thing, since some places (coffee shops, supermarkets, bars, cinemas etc.) need to be open 7 days a week, no?

  13. mahmood says:

    Jonathan there is no law against businesses staying open, they can do so if they want, however, abiding by the Labour law they have to compensate their employees. I think working an hour during weekends of National holidays equates to 1.25 hours in normal working hours. Night shift workers get a bit more than that, I think about 1.5 hours.

    All in all, the answer to your question Jonathan it is not “prohibited” to work at any time of day or night if laws are followed (noise pollution etc) and workers’ safety is taken into consideration, and of course if an agreement is reached between the parties.

    Aliandra I’ll join forces with M and say NO, I won’t be posting a picture.

    M, they were!

    zed, considering that this change is immediately going to increase efficiency by 20%, and that will immediately impact the stability of the market and undoubtedly create jobs, what’s your problem exactly?

    Ibn, remind me to never vote for you to enter parliament or a chamber of commerce!

    LiB we’ll just have to wait and see how it transpires in a year’s time. I think all around this decision is good and people will adapt to the new weekend very quickly.

  14. Omar says:

    What about the private/public schools? They will change as well?

  15. mahmood says:

    Everything will. It’s going to be a unified weekend.

  16. TechZ says:

    I wonder what we will get, seeing as we work 6 days a week at the bank right now. Sat-Thursday we work, I hope we get Saturday off!

  17. Ibn says:

    Ibn, remind me to never vote for you to enter parliament or a chamber of commerce!

    I just want more holidays! … Sniff…sniff… 🙁

    -Ibn 🙂

  18. Mr. A says:

    “It was only when I went to university in Scotland”

    where about ???

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