Workweek Changes in the UAE

Posted by on Dec 16, 2021 in Current Events

What if you were only expected to work half of each Friday? Would you like it? Workers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are about to find out. The UAE has announced that it will transition from the five-day work week to a 4.5-day work week. Weekends will include Friday afternoon, Saturday, and Sunday. But why? And would a schedule like this work in other places, such as the United States? Here, btw takes a closer look.

Why the Switch?

Up until now, the UAE, along with most other Muslim nations, has a Friday-Saturday workweek. This is because the Islamic faith considers Friday to be the holiest day of the week. But under the new schedule, Friday sermons and prayers will be held at 1:15 pm. Shops and vendors are allowed to open for the day only after prayers end.

Businessmen, some in Arabic clothing,o having a business meeting
The United Arab Emirates has announced a change in its national work schedule.

With this announcement, the UAE has become the first nation to formalize a work week shorter than five days. According to the government, this change will have economic benefits, by bringing the UAE more in line with global trading and communications. But it is also the result of efforts to establish a better work-life balance, which in turn enhances worker productivity. In general, the UAE has promoted many initiatives over the past year that are aimed at creating a more enjoyable and flexible lifestyle for its residents. Examples include loosening restrictions on alcohol consumption for adults and making it legal for unmarried couples to live together.

How Will It Work?

Starting January 1, 2022, the new schedule will apply to all federal government employees, who will also be able to make arrangements to work from home on Fridays if needed. Before 2006, the UAE had a Saturday to Wednesday workweek. But this was changed to better line up with Western nations. When that happened, the federal government transitioned, and schools and private industry followed suit. So it is likely that a similar transition will happen this time as well. In fact, private schools have already announced that they will be following the new schedule.

What Do You Think? Based on what you’ve read, do you think that shortening the workweek (and school week) to 4.5 days instead of five would be a good idea? Why or why not?