RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, June 24 (UPI) -- Saudi Arabian King Abdullah has changed the country's weekends from Thursday and Friday to Friday and Saturday, despite objections from religious conservatives.
Abdullah's decree was announced Sunday and is aimed at curbing economic losses that have resulted in having a different work week than the rest of the world, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Changing Saudi Arabia's weekend would "achieve significant gains for the kingdom, particularly in the economic arena," the decree said.
Saudi businesses voiced support for the change.
"It does improve the working hours for businesses with international markets," said Morished al-Mutlaq, executive vice president of Saudi Basic Industries Corp., one of the Gulf's largest companies.
However, religious conservatives in Saudi Arabia have for years been opposed to sharing a day off with Christians and Jews.
"We will be copying the Jews and the Christians," Saudi businessman Abdulrahman al-Jeraisy said in 2007 when Abdullah first considered changing the country's weekend.
Meanwhile, Saudi newspaper polls show the majority of Saudi residents are in support of the weekend change.