Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 8 April 2020

Bankers in Saudi Arabia told to work from home

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority says non-essential staff should work remotely for 16 days

A branch of Saudi Arabia's National Commercial Bank. The kingdom's central bank instructed all non-essential bank staff to work from home for 16 days in a measure aimed at restricting the spread of the coronavirus. Michael Bou-Nacklie / The National
A branch of Saudi Arabia's National Commercial Bank. The kingdom's central bank instructed all non-essential bank staff to work from home for 16 days in a measure aimed at restricting the spread of the coronavirus. Michael Bou-Nacklie / The National

Saudi Arabia’s central bank, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority, is implementing remote working at its facilities and ordered banks under its supervision to do the same.

The central bank said the decision was in line with a government directive to suspend the attendance of employees at all government agencies, “except for those in health, security and military sectors”. Also exempt from the suspension are those employed in the kingdom’s cyber-security sector and educators involved in distance learning programmes.

“Sama has suspended attendance of employees in its head office and branches, and has decided to implement remote working for the financial institutions under its supervision, except for critical positions that require attendance of employees, for 16 days from Monday,” the central bank said.

It added that a business continuity plan was activated to ensure payment systems are not affected and the system continues to operate normally. It said banks must reduce the number of workers in their offices and branches to only include those involved in providing services through digital channels.

The central bank also instructed banks to encourage customers to carry out transactions digitally, monitor ATMs to ensure enough cash was available and to make money transfers in riyals between Saudi banks through the SARIE system free for both business and personal accounts.

DIFC Courts, the regulatory body for Dubai's financial free zone, said it would begin operating remotely "with immediate effect".

"In an effort to protect the health and well-being of our judges, registry team and court users, the DIFC Courts and its Registry will operate on a [generally] completely remote basis," it said in an email to clients. The court premises will be closed from today until March 26 at the earliest.

Case hearings will generally be conducted by teleconference, DIFC Courts said, with "extremely limited" access to the court.

"If you have a hearing, and the judge has granted permission to have it onsite, access will be limited only to counsel and the instructing solicitor. Observers and solicitors not active on the case will not be allowed entry," the said.

The Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange also said on Tuesday it has instigated remote working through a new platform that has successfully tested deposit, clearing and settlement systems, as well as services to brokerage companies.

“ADX’s decision to launch a remote working system is consistent with its strategy to deal with any potential crisis scenario,” said chief executive Khalifa Al Mansouri.

ADX, the Dubai Financial Market and Boursa Kuwait have all announced temporary closure of their trading floors within the past three days, as a measure to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Boursa Kuwait also announced on Tuesday the exchange will close on Sunday, March 22, for one day for the Al Isra’a and Al Mi’raj holiday. Work will recommence on Monday.

Updated: March 17, 2020 07:59 PM

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