The UAE shifts the weekend to Saturday and Sunday


World’s first weekend shift: 4,5-work week

For most foreigners it goes without saying that Sunday belongs to the weekend. However, this is not the case for the residents of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). But that will change from the beginning of next year. From then on, the Emirates will not only be allowed to rest on Friday afternoon and Saturday, the two days that already form the weekend, but also on Sunday. That has been announced by the government. This means that the weekend is getting longer and that employees are only required to work 4.5-days a week.

A 4.5-day work week is a first, the government says. Sunday as a weekend day is certainly an exception in the Arabian world, a region where a more conservative form of Islam prevails than in the rest of the world. In more conservative sects of Islam, only Friday is recognized as a “day of rest”, mainly because of the important Friday prayers. Saturday is the Jewish holy day and Sunday has traditionally been seen as the Christian day of rest.

The government said that the weekend’s adjustment would boost the country’s international trade and align it better with the rest of the world. “The longer weekend will only increase the productivity of the population,” emphasizes the government.


Flexibility for the Private sectors adjustments

The government has not stated whether the private sector would be required to implement the new 4.5-day workweek, leaving it up to private enterprises to determine how to allocate resources. This might put businesses in a difficult position of juggling regional and global markets at a time when the epidemic has changed working habits all throughout the world.

However, Companies can retain their flexibility as long as they abide by the labor law said Abdulrahman Al Awar director general of the Federal Authority for Government Human Resources. The country’s labor law allocates a maximum of 48 hours per working week and a minimum of one day off per week.

The KHDA schools body in Dubai stated in a tweet on Tuesday that all private schools in Dubai would switch to the new weekend, and that it is “working closely with our community to facilitate a seamless transition”.


The effect of the shift on the business world

The changes “will increase the number of days we do business with the rest of the world, which will boost trade,” said Nabil Alyousuf, chief executive officer of Dubai-based International Advisory Group. Traders and investors in the Gulf’s equities markets may find it difficult to strike a balance between the UAE’s new working week and those of other Gulf nations. Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange, which is the largest in the Middle East, is still open for business from Sunday to Thursday. Overall, the effect on the business world is rather positive than destructive.

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