SAUDI Arabia has announced a four-day holiday for private sector employees to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, expected to last from Saturday, May 23, to Tuesday, May 26, according to the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development.
The holiday for Eid al-Fitr will begin the day after the final day of Ramadan.
As Ramadan is expected to end on May 22, pending the moon sighting, this puts the first day of private sector holiday as May 23.
Considering that most employees do not work on Friday, they can expect a five-day holiday.
Public sector employees have a noticeably longer holiday, from May 15 to May 31.
In the neighboring United Arab Emirates, Eid al-Fitr will begin on May 22 for public and private sector employees.
Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan and is usually celebrated with family and friends.
Meanwhile, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported that Saudi Arabia is continuing work on the expansion of the Grand Mosque of Mecca, one of Islam’s holiest sites, after granting licenses to the agency responsible.
The Grand Mosque of Mecca, known as al-Masjid al-Haram in Arabic, surrounds the Kaaba in Mecca and is the site of the Hajj pilgrimage that all Muslims should complete once in their lifetime. It is the largest mosque in the world and has been expanded twice, between 1955-1973 and again between 1982-1988.
Saudi Arabia announced a third expansion of the mosque in 2008, allocating 40 billion riyals ($10.6 billion) for the project.
According to SPA, the area of the third expansion includes the Masaa expansion, which has already been opened, and a range of flyovers, stairs, tunnels, security buildings, stations, bridges, power infrastructure and a hospital.
SPA announced on Wednesday that the Agency for Projects and Engineering at the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque has issued licenses for the remaining works for the third expansion.
The works include work on the main gates, the installation of artificial stone ceilings, and the completion of architectural arches overlooking the courtyard.
The announcement came as restrictions aimed at slowing the ongoing coronavirus pandemic have limited access to the mosque for pilgrims.
Authorities had closed the Islamic holy sites to the public as the virus spread to the region. They closed the areas covered by the third expansion on March 25 to help contain the spread of the virus, following a range of measures aimed at sterilising the mosque and making it safe for pilgrims in the future.