Thursday, September 4, 2008

Work Productivity and Timing in Ramadan

The workdays for non-Muslims remain the same for almost all the companies in Saudi Arabia. While the Muslims observe their Ramadan by shortening their worktime for at least 2 hours, some notable Muslim, don’t like the idea of shortened workdays, noting that Ramadan is a time when followers of Islam should work harder than ever before.

According to them, Ramadan is not an excuse to be lazy but a time to excel under difficult conditions. Coz strife and hardship strengthens society and builds character.

In fact, some international businesses find it more difficult to conduct business with Islamic countries during Ramadan.

Productivity drops during the month, with both the public and private sector observing shorter working days, and business travellers should expect their plans to be disrupted.

International business transaction seems to be disturbed by the timing of Ramadan. Actually, even during regular months, the Middle East working days overlap with the most available time in international business arena.

In Saudi Arabia alone, week-end falls on Thursday and Friday while most countries consider Saturday and Sunday as their business holidays. So the international business operation in Saudi Arabia limits to 3 days only – Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Furthermore, the time difference shortens the period. Take for example if a Saudi company transacts business in the Philippines, which has a five-hour difference in GMT. Philippine business hour usually from 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. (3:00 PM to 12:00 NOON in Saudi Arabia). Saudi business time starts at 7:30 A.M which is 12:30 P.M. in the Philippines. Hence, business hours everyday for both countries is limited to 4 ½ hours maximum (that is, 4 ½ x 3 days (MTW) = 13.5 HOURS in a week.

So during Ramadan, where offices in Saudi open at 9:30 a.m., the business hour transactions can only be possible in the Philippines from 2:30pm to 5:00 pm.

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