Archive for June, 2013
(Reuters) – Saudi Arabia has announced it is switching its official weekend to Fridays and Saturdays, bringing the kingdom’s working week closer in line with other countries in a move long desired by many of the country’s businesses.
Saudi Arabia, the biggest Arab economy, had been the only member of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council to have a Thursday-Friday weekend after Oman shifted to a Friday-Saturday weekend last month.
The surprise move, which will be applied from this week, was immediately welcomed by Saudi economists and businessmen as giving the private sector an extra day of alignment with international businesses.
“It will increase interface with the rest of the world, now things will move faster,” said Ali al-Ajmi, a former vice president at state oil company Saudi Aramco who now runs a project management business.
Abdulrahman al-Ubaid, a former vice president at Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) (2010.SE), the world’s biggest petrochemcial company, and now managing director of Saudi Development and Innovation Group, also welcomed the change.
“We expect the impact to be positive on the Saudi economy, we think our business will be easier,” he said.
Saudi Arabia is considering opening its stock market to more direct foreign investment in the future. At present, stocks move considerably on shifts in global equities and commodities markets.
Although the world’s top oil exporter had discussed looking at the change in its weekend in the future, few people had expected it to make the switch so soon.
However, some Saudi companies, including food producer Savola 2050.SE had already announced they would change their own weekend to Friday and Saturday to improve their coordination with regional partners.
The fact the change is happening in June, after schools have closed and while many Saudis are on holiday before the Ramadan fast which starts on July 9, means it will be less jarring, economists said.
“Instead of having just three working days aligned with the rest of the world, now you will have a full team for most of the working week that the rest of the world applies. One extra day does play a considerable role in increasing output,” said John Sfakianakis of chief investment officer at Masic investment in Riyadh.
Traditionally Saudis had a six-day working week, taking off Fridays when Muslims are enjoined to attend mosque for communal prayers, but the government added Thursday to the official weekend.
Some religious conservatives had argued against moving to a Friday-Saturday weekend because they feared it smacked of westernisation. However, that argument did not enjoy serious support, said Saudi sociologist Khalid al-Dakhil.
“In terms of religious opposition, yes there might be some, but there’s absolutely no unanimity in opposing this course among religious people,” he said.
A statement on Sunday on national Saudi news agency SPA said the change, decreed by King Abdullah, will take effect as of this weekend, “for the sake of putting an end to the negative effects and the lost economic opportunities consistently associated with variation based on work days between local departments, ministries and institutions and the regional and international counterparts.”
King Abdullah issued the decree following a recommendation in April by the Kingdom’s Shura Council, which advises the government on new laws, to investigate changing the country’s official weekend from the current Thursday and Friday.
Courtesy of Shandra Martinez/ MLive
GRAND RAPIDS, MI — NeoCon hasn’t moved to Last Vegas, but expect the office furniture industry’s upcoming big trade show in Chicago to feature products that have the high-tech feel of the annual Consumer Electronics Show.
Some of those products will include a digital wall offering up to 160 acres of virtual space, a chair designed for mobile device users, and wireless chargers built into desktops.
The high-tech theme marks a change of course for the industry as a whole, notes Mike Dunlap, a Holland-based office furniture analyst.
“We went a couple of decades of where technology was viewed as an accessory in the office world,” said Dunlap. “Technology was placed on, next, above or below desks.”
Now technology is being integrated into the furniture or even becoming a secondary element in the office, Dunlap added.
Full Story at MLive
NeoCon’s Michigan presence
Michigan companies with booths at NeoCon:
• 2/90 Sign Systems – Grand Rapids
• 3 Step Art – Grand Rapids
• ABCO by Izzy – Spring Lake
• Asahi Kasei Plastics North America – Fowlerville
• Beck Foley, LLC – Holland
• BIFMA – Grand Rapids
• Compatico – Grand Rapids
• Configura – Grand Rapids
• Euro-Locks – North America – Holland
• Gibraltar – Zeeland
• Gill Industries – Grand Rapids
• Grand Rapids Chair Company – Grand Rapids
• Gross Stabil Corp. – Coldwater
• Guardian Industries – Carleton
• Hekman Contract – Zeeland
• Holland Bar Stool – Holland
• Light Corporation – Grand Haven
• Markant USA, Inc. – Grand Rapids
• NSF International – Ann Arbor
• Pulse Design – Grand Rapids
• Sparkeology – Holland
• Stabilus Inc. – Sterling Heights
• Stiles Machinery Inc – Grand Rapids
• Symbiote Inc. – Zeeland
• TMC Furniture, Inc. – Ann Arbor
Michigan companies with showrooms in Merchandise Mart:
• Grand Rapids Chair Company – Grand Rapids
• CF Stinson – Rochester Hills
• Haworth – Holland
• Herman Miller – Holland
• izzy+ – Spring Lake
• Knu – Zeeland
• Leland International – Grand Rapids
• Steelcase – Grand Rapids
• Vanerum Stelter – Grand Rapids
Michigan Companies with permanent showrooms near Merchandise Mart:
• Brass Keeler