DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates has said all government entities will adopt a new working-week schedule that will consist of four and half days, with Friday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday forming the new weekend.
The move, announced by state news agency WAM on Tuesday, will come into effect on January 1, 2022, making the working week more in line with Western schedules. The UAE currently has a Friday-Saturday weekend, which corresponds to the same model other countries in the region follow.
The transition is “in line with the UAE’s vision to enhance its global competitiveness across economic and business sectors, and to keep pace with global developments”, the Abu Dhabi government media office said in a statement.
Under the new model, employees will have to complete an eight-hour workday from Monday to Thursday but are only expected to work only for 4.5 hours on Friday.
Government employees will also be allowed to choose “flexible work or work-from-home options” on Fridays.
Meanwhile, Friday sermons and prayers will be held at 1:15pm.
In predominantly Muslim countries, Friday is usually considered the holiest day of the week. In some of the neighboring countries, shops and vendors are prohibited from opening before Friday prayers end.
The announcement did not mention whether the changes would also be applied to employees in the private sector or schools. Local media reports said more details were expected to emerge in the following days.
The shift likely will see the private industry and schools follow suit, as they did in 2006 when the week changed from Saturday to Wednesday, a workweek followed in some Muslim-majority countries, such as Iran and Afghanistan.
The UAE has in the past year taken measures to make its economy more attractive to foreign investment and talent, including introducing longer-term visas. It has also revised laws regarding cohabitation before marriage, alcohol and personal status laws. (Int’l Monitoring Desk)