Lucky few get four-day Islamic Hijri New Year holiday in Oman
September 23, 2017 | 9:11 PM
by Gautam Viswanathan, [email protected]
Residents who have been given this longer weekend are understandably excited about having a very relaxing four days.

Muscat: While most residents in Oman were enjoying a three-day weekend, some are enjoying four days off, due to the Islamic Hijri New Year.

Oman’s Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs (MERA) announced on Thursday that Sunday, September 24, would be the holiday for the public and private sectors.

As the first day of the Islamic New Year fell on Friday, many organisations decided to avoid the last-minute confusion and give their employees holiday on Thursday, September 21 also, allowing them to have both days off.

Residents who have been given this longer weekend are understandably excited about having a very relaxing four days.

“My company did not want to wait until the last minute, because they knew that many of us had travel plans which we had already booked, so they decided to give us Thursday off, anyways,” said one Omani. “I am glad they have done this, because there is no confusion or last-minute panic to make plans.”

In anticipation of possible confusion over the holiday, some companies took measures to ensure employee productivity was not affected during the four-day weekend they gave their employees.

“Normally, we begin work at eight and finish by five, but our company asked us to work an extra hour every day so that we didn’t have any pending work on Thursday,” said an expatriate employee.

“All of us can therefore enjoy a care-free weekend with our families without worrying about any deadlines we need to meet.”

Travel plan

Another professional in Oman added, “Our company had circulated a memo telling us that, irrespective of the official decision, Thursday would be a holiday for us, so that our plans wouldn’t be disrupted. I know many of my friends who had made arrangements to travel this weekend, but obviously that won’t be happening for them.”

MERA’s moon sighting committee was only able to issue a decision on Wednesday night, stating, “Friday will be the first day of Muharram, which falls on September 22, 2017.”

The announcement has also disrupted school schedules in Oman. Students at Indian School Muscat were expected to finish their exams on Thursday.

“As we didn’t know, we have shifted all the examinations to later,” a senior official at Indian Schools said.

Also, a circular from Indian School Muscat advised parents: “Please be informed that the examinations falling on the government declared holiday of Muharram have now been rescheduled to September 25.”

“The Islamic New Year public holiday has been announced for Sunday 24 September,” read a statement from the British School Muscat, issued on Wednesday. “BSM will be open tomorrow, Thursday 21 September, and closed for the holiday on Sunday 24 September.”

The American British Academy also informed students of the upcoming holidays in advance. A text message circulated to students who attended the school, and to their parents, said, “Dear all, please be advised that Sunday, 24th September, has been declared a holiday for the Islamic New Year by the Ministry of Manpower and Religious Affairs.”

Although Sunday is a holiday in Oman, the neighbouring United Arab Emirates had previously declared Thursday a public holiday.

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