Algeria’s government has decided to break with the 33-year-old practice of observing the weekend on Thursdays and Fridays, a move investors greeted as a step to improving the difficult business climate.

Algeria is a major exporter of oil and gas but outside its energy sector, growth and investment have been modest. Business people blame heavy state regulation that makes it tough to trade with the outside world.

The Algerian cabinet ruled that starting from next month the official weekend would be moved to Friday and Saturday — in line with the practice in many Middle Eastern states.

“It’s excellent news. It will reconnect Algeria with the world,” said Lyes Kahouadji, a financial specialist at Algerian consultancy Strategica, part-owned by Deutsche Bank Group.

Investors complain that having the weekend on Thursdays and Fridays, with Saturdays and Sundays as working days, meant they only had three days a week to conduct business with partners outside Algeria.

The practice had been costing Algeria between $500 and $700 million in lost business each year, according to estimates from business lobby groups.

Saudi Arabia and Yemen also mark the weekend on Thursday and Friday. Kuwait switched to a Friday-Saturday weekend two years ago as part of efforts to promote its non-oil economy.

Friday is a day off in large parts of the Muslim world to allow people to attend prayers at the mosque.



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