Complex Made Simple

The UAE realigned its business schedule to meet that of the Western world

Saturday and Sunday will be the new weekend for government workers in the UAE, it was revealed yesterday

Federal government departments in the UAE are to change their working week starting January 1, 2022 UAE’s financial sector will closely align with global real-time trading and communications-based transactions Two Arab countries have adopted the Saturday-Sunday weekend schedule before

Saturday and Sunday will be the new weekend for government workers in the UAE, it was revealed yesterday.

This decision will eliminate the weekend gap and it will allow more business and exchange of trade with the world economy.

Federal government departments in the UAE are to change their working week starting January 1, 2022, with much of the country expected to follow suit.

Public sector workers at the ministerial level will adopt a four and a half-day working week, with employees working Monday to Thursday and half days on Fridays.

The Dubai and Abu Dhabi governments said their employees would adopt the same hours. Private sector employees are not bound by the decision but could follow suit should companies decide to do so. The private sector cannot exceed the 48-hour working week maximum.

The decision “will better align the Emirates with global markets, reflecting the country’s strategic status on the global economic map,” the UAE Government Media Office said.

The new system will mean federal and many local government workers will work from 7.30am to 3.30pm – 90 minutes longer than at present – on Monday to Thursday and from 7.30am to noon on Friday. There is the possibility of flexible working and work-from-home options on Fridays, officials said.

Vishal Pandey, director of Glasgow Consulting Group, is a Dubai-based market specialist. He told Hotelier Middle East: “This 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 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.”

Former changes to working weeks

The country’s working week last changed in 2006, when it was moved from Thursday-Friday to the current Friday-Saturday pattern. The move brought the Emirates in line with global markets.

Between 1971 and 1999, the country had an official six-day working week, with just Friday as a government-mandated day off.

Thursday was added to create a two-day weekend in 1999.

The changed week was generally welcomed on social media, where the subject was trending and the official announcements were widely retweeted.

UAE’s business desirability

The UAE has once again showing its willingness to show flexibility towards its expat community with the aim of attracting talent and business.

Last year, the country made a striking new set of changes to offset the impact of the pandemic on the economy and continue to cast the U.A.E. as a desirable place to live and work for foreigners. It introduced tougher laws against the harassment of women, allowed unmarried couples to live together and completely decriminalized the consumption of alcohol. The UAE in the past year has also introduced longer-term visas and in January, it opened a pathway to citizenship for expatriates.


Other Arab countries with western-style weekend

Here are the 3 Arab countries that adopted the Saturday-Sunday weekend schedule.

Lebanon: In 2017, Lebanon adopted a new official pattern of 35 weekly hours in government offices. Saturday and Sunday remained a weekend, the same it had ever been.

Tunisia: In 2016, the authorities decided to consider Saturday as a working day in some public institutions but then Tunisia started following the Monday-Friday working week in 2021.

Morocco: For business purposes, Morocco also follows the Monday to Friday working week. The standard working week in Morocco is 48 hours, or eight hours a day, Monday-Friday.