UAE shrinks work week, shifts to Western-style weekend | Global News
Close  

UAE shrinks work week, shifts to Western-style weekend

/ 10:26 AM December 08, 2021
UAE

INQUIRER.net file photo: The United Arab Emirates

DUBAI — The United Arab Emirates is slashing its official working week to four-and-a-half days and moving its weekend to Saturday and Sunday in a major shift aimed at improving competitiveness, officials said on Tuesday.

The “national working week” is mandatory for government bodies from January 1 and bucks the regional norm of a full day off on Friday for Muslim prayers.

ADVERTISEMENT

Scott Livermore, chief economist at Oxford Economics Middle East, an advisory firm, said businesses could choose their working week but were likely to align with the public sector.

While becoming the only Gulf country not to have a Friday-Saturday weekend, the resource-rich and ambitious UAE now comes into line with the non-Arab world.

FEATURED STORIES

Under the new timetable, the public-sector weekend starts at noon on Fridays and ends on Sunday. Friday prayers at mosques will be held after 1:15 pm.

The move, which also includes schools, is intended to “better align the UAE with global markets”, said state news agency WAM, calling the new working week the world’s shortest.

“The UAE is the first nation in the world to introduce a national working week shorter than the global five-day week,” it said.

The Western-style weekend, rumored for years, was announced less than a week after the former British protectorate celebrated the 50th anniversary of its formation.

The UAE observed a Thursday-Friday weekend until 2006, when it moved to Fridays and Saturdays.

“The extended weekend comes as part of the UAE government’s efforts to boost work-life balance and enhance social wellbeing, while increasing performance to advance the UAE’s economic competitiveness,” the WAM report said.

It added that the change “will better align the UAE with global markets, reflecting the country’s strategic status on the global economic map.”

ADVERTISEMENT

‘Great step’

The new arrangement is another bold step for the UAE, which last year broke with decades of Arab consensus by normalizing relations with Israel, unlocking hundreds of millions of dollars in trade.

It gives the UAE the jump on regional competitors including neighboring Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s largest economy which is seeking a greater international presence as it diversifies its economy away from oil.

The changed week was generally welcomed on social media, where the subject was trending and the official announcements were widely retweeted.

Manoj, an IT worker in Dubai’s Business Bay district, said the Friday-Saturday weekend had long caused problems when working with clients in different countries.

“I think it’s a great step because collaborating with different clients overseas always provides a problem, because we are not working on Fridays and they are not working on Sundays,” he said.

“So there is a gap of like three days before we actually sync up.”

Monica, a financial sector worker, said: “I think it’s good from an international point of view that we are in line with the world, with the globe.

“And in terms of having the extra half-day on Friday, I think it works well because it will give us more time with family.”

Livermore, of Oxford Economics Middle East, told AFP the alignment with Europe and Asia “will help internationally orientated business that are an important pillar of the economy and could attract investment.”

At the same time, “a shorter working week does present some challenges in terms of managing output costs, although there is some evidence that a shorter working week can boost productivity of the workforce,” he added.

RELATED STORIES

UAE says to resume visas for tourists vaccinated against COVID-19

New UAE criminal code among 40 legal changes in reform push

Subscribe to our global nation newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.
Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: Global Nation, Labor, UAE, Weekend
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.

Subscribe to our global news

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and
acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.



© Copyright 1997-2022 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.