United Arab Emirates go for a Western-style weekend



Small upheaval in the Gulf. Traditionally Friday and Saturday are weekend days. From January, the weekend will be aligned with that of Western countries. But he will keep half a day of rest on Friday afternoon.

This new weekend has been planned for several years. In 1971, year of the creation of the federation of the United Arab Emirates, after the departure of the British troops, the weekend was established from Thursday to Friday. In 2006, it is moved to Friday-Saturday. In 2022, the new national working week will come into effect for the public sector. The weekend will begin on Friday at 1 p.m. at the time of the great prayer, which brings together the faithful each week, and will end on Sunday evening.

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In a large number of Muslim countries, such as Algeria, Qatar or Syria, Fridays are non-working as well as Saturdays. The United Arab Emirates, a federal state made up of 7 emirates (Abu Dhabi, Adjman, Chardja, Dubai, Fudjayra, Ras Al-Khayma, Umm Al-Qaywayn), will be the only ones in the Gulf to have a weekend on Saturday-Sunday . The United Arab Emirates also becomes the first country in the world to implement a workweek of less than five days, according to WAM, the country’s news agency.

A decision for the economy

For the UAE government, the goal is to improve work-life balance and social well-being as the new week offers more time off. The aim is also to increase the country’s economic performance by aligning itself with the working days of the international financial markets.

“This will ensure fluidity in financial, commercial and economic transactions with the countries following the Saturday-Sunday weekend, strengthening (..) the opportunities for thousands of international companies based in the Emirates”, announces the WAM, specifying that this will “To increase performance in terms of competitiveness” from the country.

The United Arab Emirates, one of the richest and most influential countries in the Gulf, is an important financial center in the region which attracts foreign investors. “This decision is therefore logical and is not surprising”, analyzes Anne Gadel, consultant specializing in the Middle East and member of the Jean-Jaurès Foundation. She also believes that the other Gulf countries could be tempted to imitate the Emirates for the same reason of economic competition, but this is not necessarily a priority for them.

A desire for openness

With this announcement, the country is part of the continuity of a policy of openness and modernization desired by Sheikh Khalifa Ben Zayed Al Nahyane. At the end of 2020, the Emirates decriminalized cohabitation for expatriates and in January, they relaxed the conditions for obtaining a visa.

As economic competition is very strong in the Gulf, especially with Saudi Arabia, this decision also aims to attract more expatriates that the Emirates need to develop their economy.

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