The United Arab Emirates (UAE) recently announced that it is reducing its official workweek to four and a half days and that it is moving its weekend to Saturday and Sunday in a major shift aimed at improving competitiveness.
As per Al Jazeera, the national working week will be mandatory for government bodies from January 1 and bucks the regional norm of a full day off on Friday for Muslim prayers. With this change, UAE becomes the only country in the Gulf not to have a Friday-Saturday weekend.
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 all year round.
The move is intended to “better align the UAE with global markets”, said state news agency WAM, calling the new working week the shortest in the world.
“The UAE is the first nation in the world to introduce a national working week shorter than the global five-day week,” WAM said.
The Western-style weekend had been rumored for years. It 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 with the private sector following suit.
“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.
“From an economic perspective, the new working week will better align the UAE with global markets, reflecting the country’s strategic status on the global economic map,” it added.
“It will ensure smooth financial, trade and economic transactions with countries that follow a Saturday/Sunday weekend, facilitating stronger international business links and opportunities for thousands of UAE-based and multinational companies.”
Wouldn’t it be nice if other countries, such as the Philippines, follow suit?
Art Daniella Sison