Thursday, 20 January 2022

UAE announces 4-and-half day work week from 1st January; Saturday, Sunday weekend

UAE announces 4-and-half day work week from 1st January; Saturday, Sunday weekend

UAE will shift for a working week of four and half days with Saturday-Sunday weekend from the start of next year to better situate its economy with global markets. Still, private companies will be free to choose their working week.

The region's commercial, trade, and tourism hub, the oil-producing Gulf state, currently has Friday-Saturday weekends. From 1st January, however, the weekend will start on Friday afternoon, including for schools, a government notice said.

Abdulrahman al-Awar, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, told Reuters.

"Each company, depending on sector they operate in and what suits and best serves their business, can choose the weekends they decide for their employees,"

Over the past year, the UAE has made its economy more attractive to foreign investment and talent due to the growing economic competition with Saudi Arabia.

Addressing any religious sensitivity in the Sunni Muslim ruled country, where settle abroad make up most of the population, the government said working on Friday would end at noon before Muslim prayers, which would be unified on Friday across UAE.

It said the extended weekend would improve employees' work-life balance and noted that several majority-Muslim nations, such as Morocco and Indonesia, have Saturday-Sunday weekends off.

The UAE said the move would "ensure smooth financial, trade and economic transactions with countries that follow a Saturday-Sunday weekend, facilitating stronger international business links and opportunities" for UAE-based and multinational firms.

UAE announces 4 and half day work week from 1st January Saturday Sunday weekend 1unsplash image

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The change will impact state entities like the central bank, which would communicate details about the new working hours to commercial banks, said al-Awar, adding that UAE stock exchanges would also be more integrated with global markets.

He said.

"This change will enhance the integration of the banking sector in the UAE with the banking community internationally... it will eliminate the gap that existed in the past,"

Mohammed Ali Yasin, chief strategy officer at Al Dhabi Capital, said the financial sector would benefit from making simultaneous payment settlements with developed markets. The tourism industry would also be a beneficiary.

He said.

"It could be a good experiment for other countries in the region,"

Friday is a weekly holiday in more than five Gulf Arab states and many predominantly Muslim countries.

An economist at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Monica Malik, said she expects many private sector companies in UAE to follow the Saturday-Sunday weekend, describing the move as a "very meaningful development" alongside other recent reforms.

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