UAE shrinks work week, shifts to Western-style weekend

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The UAE is slashing its official working week to four-and-a-half days and moving its weekend to Saturday and Sunday in a major shift aimed at improving competitiveness, officials said on Tuesday.اضافة اعلان

The "national working week" is mandatory for government bodies from January 1 and bucks the regional norm of a full day off on Friday for Muslim prayers.

Scott Livermore, chief economist at Oxford Economics Middle East, an advisory firm, said businesses could choose their working week but were likely to align with the public sector.

While becoming the only Gulf country not to have a Friday-Saturday weekend, the resource-rich and ambitious UAE now comes into line with the non-Arab world.

Under the new timetable, the public-sector weekend starts at noon on Fridays and ends on Sunday. Friday prayers at mosques will be held after 1:15 pm.
The move, which also includes schools, is intended to "better align the UAE with global markets", said state news agency WAM, calling the new working week the worlds shortest.

"The UAE is the first nation in the world to introduce a national working week shorter than the global five-day week," it said.

The Western-style weekend, rumored for years, was announced less than a week after the former British protectorate celebrated the 50th anniversary of its formation.

The UAE observed a Thursday-Friday weekend until 2006, when it moved to Fridays and Saturdays.

"The extended weekend comes as part of the UAE government's efforts to boost work-life balance and enhance social wellbeing, while increasing performance to advance the UAE's economic competitiveness," the WAM report said.

It added that the change "will better align the UAE with global markets, reflecting the country's strategic status on the global economic map."

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