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30 August, 14:22

    (ANSAmed) - DUBAI, AUGUST 30 - The holy month of the Muslim calendar ended yesterday with the festival of Eid al Fitr. Ramadan is the month of sacrifice, abstinence, prayer, as well as families gathering together each night at sunset for the meal that ends the day without food and water. It is a month in which the days for the 49 Muslim-majority countries in the world transform from intense and difficult to fast and joyful. But what does this mean for the economies of these countries, after a month in which the pace of work slows and hours are reduced? The answer is nearly 5.8 billion dollars for the Gulf countries, according to an new study conduced by Productive Muslim in collaboration with Dinar Standards. Countries reducing their work days from 8 to 6 hours lose the equivalent of a week of productivity, an average 7.7% of GDP, explained the study, entitled "Productivity during Ramadan: Strategies for Modern Muslim Labour Policies". Saudi Arabia led the world ranking for losses with 2.4 billion dollars, followed by Indonesia, with 2.2 billion and the United Arab Emirates with 1.4 billion dollars. Several regional analysts, however, raised objections to the study based on 1,524 cases. While some industries slow down, others speed up, they said.

    "We must consider the entire situation," commented Ajit Karnik, an economics professor at Middlesex University of Dubai, speaking to Gulf News. "Products and services linked to the tourism and hotel sector increase during this period." Moreover, just like the other important holidays in other religions such as Christmas in the Christian world, spending on lunches, sweets, gifts and several product lines lead to increases in production months in advance in order to deal with growing demand. "This should also be included in this calculation," concluded Karnik. According to others, increased flexibility in hours - with afternoons free and returning in the evening - as well as reorganised shifts between Muslim and non-Muslim colleagues, makes up for the reduced hours. The study definitively poses a key question to the governments of the member-countries of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which represents 57 Muslim countries: Is it better to keep two hours of production or change to one? Sixty-one percent of those interviewed said that two hours do not effect final productivity, 26% said that it does have an effect, 15% said that labour should not factor into the priorities of this month, which is dedicated to religious and spiritual activity, while 3% believe that, basically, no one works during Ramadan. (ANSAmed).

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