Public Holidays, Weekends, and Leave Types in Saudi Arabia
21 Oct 2023
Saudi Arabia, with its rich history, diverse culture, and strong Islamic roots, observes a unique set of holidays and weekends. If you're planning to visit, work, or even settle in the Kingdom, understanding these holidays and leave types is crucial. Dive into this detailed guide on the Kingdom's time off norms, and ensure you're in the loop.
Public Holidays in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia, with its rich heritage and religious significance, has a unique set of public holidays. Here are the major ones:
- Al Hijri (Islamic New Year): This is the day that marks the beginning of the Islamic lunar calendar year. The exact date varies annually as it's based on the moon's sighting.
- Eid Al-Fitr: Celebrated at the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting, Eid Al-Fitr is one of the most significant festivals. It can last anywhere from 2 to 4 days, during which businesses and government offices usually remain closed.
- Eid Al-Adha: Approximately two months after Eid Al-Fitr, Eid Al-Adha or the "Festival of the Sacrifice" commences. This holiday lasts around 10 days and aligns with the Hajj pilgrimage.
- Saudi National Day: Celebrated on September 23, this day marks the establishment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It's a day of national pride, filled with events and celebrations.
- Prophet Muhammad's Birthday: The birth anniversary of Prophet Muhammad is another public holiday. Like Al Hijri, its date changes every year based on the lunar calendar.
Remember, the exact dates of these holidays can shift annually. It's always a good idea to check the specific dates for the year you're interested in.
Weekend in Saudi Arabia
Up until a few years ago, Saudi Arabia had its weekend on Thursday and Friday. But to align more closely with international business days, the Kingdom shifted its official weekend to Friday and Saturday . This change has proved beneficial for businesses and has also given residents a longer overlap with the global weekend.
Leave Types in Saudi Arabia
Just like any other country, Saudi Arabia recognizes the need for rest and relaxation for its workforce. Here's a breakdown of the leave types:
- Annual Leave: Employees in Saudi Arabia are entitled to a minimum of 21 days of annual leave after completing a year of service. After five years of service, this extends to 30 days.
- Hajj Leave: An essential religious rite for Muslims, Hajj, or the pilgrimage to Mecca, is a once-in-a-lifetime obligation. Saudi employees who haven't performed Hajj before are entitled to a paid leave of up to 10 days for this purpose.
- Sick Leave: The first 30 days of sick leave in a year are fully paid. The next 60 days are half-paid, and any additional days are without pay.
- Maternity Leave: Female employees are entitled to 10 weeks of maternity leave, with 4 weeks before the expected delivery date and 6 weeks post-delivery.
- Paternity Leave: While not as long as maternity leave, fathers are entitled to a short paternity leave. The exact duration can vary based on company policies.
- Mourning Leave: In the event of a death of a direct family member, employees are typically allowed 3 days of paid leave.
- Emergency Leave: Some companies offer emergency leaves at their discretion, which aren't part of the standard leave policy. It's essential to discuss this directly with the employer.
Saudi Arabia, with its blend of cultural and religious traditions, offers a unique set of public holidays and leave entitlements. Whether you're planning a business venture, considering employment, or just visiting the Kingdom, it's crucial to acquaint yourself with these dates and norms.
Keep in mind, while these are standard practices, individual company policies might offer additional benefits. Always read the fine print and clarify with your employer or business partners. Stay informed and make the most of your time in this magnificent country!
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