Saudi Arabia says businesses and shops to open 24 hours

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Move is part of kingdom's plans to diversify the economy and reduce its dependence on oil

A woman walks past closed shops in Riyadh. Reuters

Saudis walk in front of a mall in the capital of Riyadh. AFP

Women shop at a jewellery stand in Dhahran Mall, Saudi Arabia. Reuters

A saudi man walks next to closed shops in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Reuters

Saudi women walk past a jeweller arriving to open his shop in the Tiba gold market in the capital Riyadh. AFP

A Saudi citizen shops at the Virgin store in the Mall of Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Reuters

Makkah Mall, one of the shopping malls operated by Arabian Centres, owned by Fawaz Alhokair Group, is pictured in Makkah. Reuters

Saudi woman walks in front of a mall in the capital of Riyadh. AFP

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Mina Aldroubi

Dec 30, 2019

December 30, 2019

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Saudi Arabia said on Monday that shops and businesses will be allowed to stay open for 24 hours from January 1.

The move is part of the reform plans to prepare the biggest Arab economy for a post oil-era.

“Allowing commercial activities to function 24/7 will contribute to providing commodities and services to residents around the clock and will enhance the quality of life in cities,” Majed Al Qasabi, the acting Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs, said on Monday.

Business owners will be required to apply to the relevant municipalities for a licence to stay open.

According to the guidelines, cameras must also be installed for the licence to be issued, the ministry said.

Companies wishing to take advantage of the new rules must pay about Dh98,000 in fees. Pharmacies, petrol stations, hotels and resorts are exempt.

The decision was passed by the Saudi Cabinet last July but needed the approval of the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs.

Since 2016, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has pushed through social and economic reforms as part of plans to modernise the kingdom and attract foreign investment.

Businesses in the kingdom are required to close five times a day during prayer times. It remains unclear if the new rules will change this..

Updated: December 30, 2019 12:17 PM

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