The United Arab Emirates will shift to a working week of four and half days with a Friday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday the new weekend for government employees from the start of next year. It’s to better align its economy with global markets. The move, announced by state news agency WAM on Tuesday, will come into effect on January 1, 2022. The employees will work only for 4.5 hours on Friday. The shift is significant, given Friday has long been a sacred day for worshippers of Islam. Friday sermons and prayers will be held at 1:15pm. The transition is “in line with the UAE’s vision to enhance its global competitiveness across economic and business sectors, and to keep pace with global developments”, the Abu Dhabi government media office said in a statement. It’s not clear whether the changes would also be applied to employees in the private sector or schools.
The UAE has in the past year taken measures to make its economy more attractive to foreign investment and talent, including introducing longer-term visas. “We believe that it will enable the UAE to attract talent that would be looking forward to having more comparable work days and weekends with their home countries,” Abdulrahman Al Awar, the UAE’s minister of human resources and emiratisation told media.According to officials, the country will also be hoping the move boosts “not only trading opportunities but also add to the flexible, secure and enjoyable lifestyle the UAE offers to its citizens and residents.”