The United Arab Emirates public sector will move to a four-and-a-half-day working week starting on January 2022.
On December 7, the United Arab Emirates government announced a new weekend and a shorter working week. The move is meant to boost productivity, improve work-life balance and adapt to global markets.
Friday afternoons, Saturdays and Sundays will now be off for all federal government departments. Federal government entities will start operating under the four-and-a-half-day working week system starting on January 1, 2022.
The governments of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman and Umm Al Quwain also follow the federal change and adjust their weekends.
Starting in 2022, public sector employees will then work 8 hours from Monday to Thursday and 4.5 hours on Friday. Their day would stop at 12:00 pm on Fridays. The employees would also have the possibility to have flexible working hours and work-from-home options on Fridays.
As a Muslim country, Friday sermons and prayers will permanently be held after 1:15 pm.
Fifteen years ago, the United Arab Emirates moved to a Friday-Saturday weekend. And seventy years before that, they had moved to a Thursday-Friday weekend.
Shorter week to increase productivity, work-life balance and be a global economy
The change of weekdays in the Emirates has been in discussion for about a decade now.
With this move, the U.A.E. wants to position the country as a global economy, hopes to increase its productivity and become more attractive with a better work-life balance.
The five-day workweek is an informal norm since the early 1900s that became almost global. But the four-day workweek has gained interest in the past few years as a way to boost the population’s well-being and the economy’s productivity.
The change makes the U.A.E. more aligned with the Saturday-Sunday weekends that large economies and financial stock markets observe in the world. Stock exchanges in the U.A.E. will operate Monday to Friday.
Public schools will operate under the new timetable. Abu Dhabi and Dubai’s private school operators will do the same.
As schools and government entities adopt a new working tempo, the corporate sector is not tied to the new legislation but has the possibility to follow it.