The UAE has announced 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.
Abu Dhabi and Dubai Governments have also announced that they would follow the new work week structure.
The move means new working hours for government staff, with Monday to Thursday workdays now starting at 7.30am and ending at 3.30pm and Friday working hours from 7.30am-12.00pm.
Friday is a weekly holiday in many predominantly Muslim countries. The statement said that under the new work week for government entities, Friday working hours would end at 12 noon, ahead of Friday sermons and prayers.
The statement said the extended weekend comes as part of UAE efforts to boost work-life balance.
Friday sermons and prayers across the Emirates will be held from 1.15pm. Government staff will have the flexibility to make arrangements to work from home on Fridays, as well as to arrange their working hours on a flexi-time basis.
The UAE is the first nation in the world to introduce a national working week shorter than the global five-day week.
The UAE Government Media Office said the extended weekend comes as part of efforts to boost work-life balance and enhance social wellbeing, while increasing performance to advance the country’s economic competitiveness.
From an economic perspective, the new working week will better align the Emirates with global markets, reflecting the country’s strategic status on the global economic map.
“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,” the media office said.
“The new working week will also bring the UAE’s financial sector into closer alignment with global real-time trading and communications-based transactions such as those driving global stock markets, banks and financial institutions. The move is expected to boost not only trading opportunities but also add to the flexible, secure and enjoyable lifestyle the Emirates offers its citizens and residents.”
The Federal Authority for Government Human Resources proposed the new workweek following “comprehensive benchmarking and feasibility studies”, reflecting potential impacts of the move on the economy, on social and family ties and on the overall wellbeing of people in the Emirates.