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Doha, Sep 15: Qatar authorities are studying whether to change the weekend to Saturday and Sunday, instead of Friday-Saturday, an official said here yesterday.

By adjusting the weekend to the international working week, gas-rich Qatar would become more consistent with international business practices and optimise its working week, the official told Gulf News.

"A study is under way to move the weekend to Saturday and Sunday, however it is not clear if and when a decision in this regard will be taken," the official at the Planning Council said.

"We conducted a survey to evaluate the response of the public to the proposal. Many nationals are sceptical about the move and fear it could affect family and religious customs."

The official could not elaborate further on the survey. The Gulf country, whose booming economy relies on huge natural gas reserves, has its major commercial partners in the Far East, the United States and Europe.

The current Friday-Saturday weekend results in reducing the weekly working days available to deal with international companies to four, the official said.

However, nationals expressed mixed feelings about the possibility of having a weekend change.

Asked to comment on the issue, Sultan Al Hashimi, Professor of Sharia at Qatar University, told the local daily Peninsula recently that Islamic scholars were asked to officially state that Friday is a weekend-day at a conference attended by foreign ministers from Islamic nations in 1998. He said he did not consider possible any change in this regard.

Jamal Faiz, Director of Cultural Activities at the General Youth Authority, said he would object to the weekend change only if the Islamic teachings were preventing it.

"If there is anything in the Islamic teachings that prevents authorities from changing the weekend, then I will refuse it. However, if there is no reason for prevention, then I believe that we must further the discussion, and review the positive and negative effects of such a change," he said.

"However we could have to overcome religious and social implications." 

A Qatar-based American Muslim said in its web blog that he and other Muslims living in the country were against the proposal.

"Friday is not only the time we have Friday prayers [which is religiously dictated] but also a very important time for visiting family and friends in a relaxed fashion."


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