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UAE Weekends Are Changing

There has been years of talk and speculation, with rumours of a weekend shift floating in and out of news articles in the last few months about the UAE aligning their working week with the West. On Tuesday, the UAE officially announced that the public sector will now be moving to a four and a half day working week. Commencing January 1st 2022, employees in the public sector will work a half day until noon on Fridays, and will also have Saturday and Sunday off. As a result of this, Friday prayer time has shifted to 1:15pm. Employees will also be offered an option to work from home on Friday mornings, a decision made to acknowledge the religious obligations for Muslims to be able to attend Friday prayers.

The new extended weekend hopes to create a better work-life balance for employees, reduce stress and promote social well-being. A major part of the change is the economic impact this will have. The weekend will now align with Western markets, providing a boost to the UAE’s economic competitiveness. This marks one of the biggest changes for the UAE since 2006, when the weekend officially changed to Friday – Saturday.

How will this affect the Private Sector?

While the official weekend has changed for the public sector, no such announcement has been made yet for those in the private sector. The decision to align weekends with the public sector may ultimately be left up to private sector employers. Schools within the UAE will also be adopting the new Saturday – Sunday weekend, and will finish early on Fridays. This change means that parents currently working in the private sector will also want this change to spill over to private employees.

The announcement has sparked a major conversation in companies, with different opinions on the change. We have been discussing the topic with both out clients and candidates. Some are very keen on this shift, particularly those working within the financial sector who’s the benefit of aligning with the real-time trading markets. Others have described the change as an end of an era for the UAE, with the country having made significant changes in the last couple of months to align more with the Western World.

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