United Arab Emirates Government announces four and a half-day working week from January
The UAE Government is to adopt a new four and a half day working week, effective from January 1, 2022. The move applies to Federal government entities and comes alongside new working hours, with Monday to Thursday workdays now starting at 7.30am and ending at 3.30pm and Friday working hours from 7.30am-12.00pm.
In addition, Friday sermons and prayers across the Emirates will be held from 1.15pm. Government staff will have the flexibility to make arrangements to work from home on Fridays, as well as to arrange their working hours on a flexi-time basis.
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.
From an economic perspective, the new working week will better align the Emirates with global markets, reflecting the country’s strategic status on the global economic map. It will ensure smooth financial, trade and economic transactions with countries that follow a Saturday/Sunday weekend, facilitating stronger international business links and opportunities for thousands of UAE-based and multinational companies.
It will also bring the UAE’s financial sector into closer alignment with global real-time trading and communications-based transactions such as those driving global stock markets, banks and financial institutions. The move is expected to boost not only trading opportunities but also add to the flexible, secure and enjoyable lifestyle the Emirates offers its citizens and residents.
Social media has been quite active around this announcement. An evaluation of nearly 11,000 posts and comments across multiple social media platforms by UAE-based social analytics and research consultancy Anavizio showed nearly two-thirds (65%) of opinions expressed by social media users in the UAE were positive about the changed work week.
Around 11% of the posts reviewed expressed concerns about the changes based on religious grounds. A similar number of comments, 11%, raised questions about what the changes mean for the private sector and for schools and universities. Announcements were subsequently made that educational institutions will follow the new working week guidelines, although individuals working in the private sector continued to wonder what impact the changes will have on them.
Just over a quarter (27%) of comments by regional users saw praise for the UAE, seeing the Federation as a role model for the Middle East. A further 3% of comments from regional users expressed hope that their countries would implement similar changes.