First in the gulf for weekend Saturday-Sunday
DUBAI. 2022 transformed the UAE into the first country in the world to adopt the short four and a half day work week, and the first Gulf nation to shift its weekend from traditional Friday and Saturday to more western Saturday and Sunday.
There historic reform, effective from 1 January, rewards international competitiveness over religious tradition: Friday is in fact the Muslim day dedicated to prayer which – the Emiratis promise – will be preserved by the half day free left by the short week. The new rules apply above all to the public sector and to the schools of the country, but if on the one hand they help to align with world markets, on the other they bring with them some difficulties in harmonization with private companies, invited by the authorities to adopt the new week and new weekend, but don’t oblige. According to a recent survey of 190 companies by the consulting firm Mercer, reported by local media, most of the private companies (57 percent) said they wanted to move to the new weekend of Saturday-Sunday.
However, only one in four companies (23%) said they will likely apply the short workweek policy, leaving Friday afternoons free. Furthermore, the workers of private companies who will keep the ‘traditional’ working week will have to find a balance with the commitments of their children, who will stay at home on Sundays while their parents work.
The announcement of the historic reform came on 7 December last, confirming the ambitions repeatedly reaffirmed by the Abu Dhabi authorities to make the country increasingly a global player in the world. On that occasion, the authorities highlighted the goal of the new weekend to “increase performance to advance the economic competitiveness” of the United Arab Emirates, “reflecting the strategic state of the country on the global economic map. It will ensure smooth financial, commercial and economic transactions with the countries following a Saturday / Sunday weekend, facilitating stronger international trade ties and opportunities for thousands of multinational and UAE-based companies. ” The new working week also brings the UAE financial sector “into closer alignment with real-time global trade and communications-based transactions such as those that drive global equity markets, banks and financial institutions.” With the new reform, government staff also received the ability to work from home on Fridays, as well as organize their work on a flexible schedule.
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