New Delhi: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Tuesday said that its official workweek will now be from Monday to Friday changing from the Islamic schedule of Saturday to Wednesday. All the government employees will get a half-day off on Friday, the traditional Muslim holy day, followed by weekoffs on Saturday and Sunday, the announcement said. With this, UAE becomes the first nation to make the workweek of four-and-a-half days, shorter than the global five-day week.
It comes as a major change in the Islamic nation that is home to major financial institutions. The change in workweek, which is to take effect next month, brings it in line with Western schedules.
“#UAE announces today that it will transition to a four and a half day working week, with Friday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday forming the new weekend. All Federal government departments will move to the new weekend from January 1, 2022,” the UAE government said on Twitter.
The working hours will be 8 hours from Monday to Thursday and 4.5 hours on Friday. Friday sermons and prayers will be held after 1.15 pm all year long in UAE. According to the government order, there should be a possibility of flexible working hours and work-from-home options on Fridays.
Hailing the decision, the Emirati government said, “The extended weekend comes as part of the UAE’s government efforts to boost work-life balance and enhance social wellbeing.”
Further, the decision makes the Gulf Arab state, home to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, one of the few places in the Middle East to operate on Western hours instead of on a Sunday through Thursday working week.
Private industry and schools in UAE are also likely to follow the government shift, as they did in 2006, when the week changed from Saturday to Wednesday. The Islamic workweek is followed in some Muslim countries, such as Iran and Afghanistan.