The official working week in the United Arab Emirates is changed from Monday to Friday.
The change will bring the Islamic nation, which is home to large financial institutions, in line with Western timetables.
The decision, which is due to go into effect next month, makes the Arab Gulf state, home to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, one of the few places in the Middle East to operate during Western hours instead of a week of work from Sunday to Thursday.
The long-standing change comes as the United Arab Emirates, home to the coastal emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, seeks to strengthen its business and tourism appeal as it emerges from the coronavirus pandemic and faces more regional competition. intense, especially with Saudi Arabia.
Dubai has attracted a variety of Western multinational companies over the years. Its Dubai International Financial Center – overseen by independent regulators – has grown, providing stock traders and market traders with a convenient time zone to work between Asian and European markets. The sun is setting in this part of the Middle East around the time the markets open in New York.
“The new work week will also bring the UAE financial sector closer to real-time global transactions and communications-based transactions,” a government statement said, adding that the new schedule was “not only to boost opportunities. businesses, but also add to the flexible, safe and enjoyable lifestyle that the Emirates offers to its citizens and residents â.
Government workers would work half a day on Friday, the traditional Muslim holy day, and then take Saturday and Sunday off, officials said.
The statement also said that Friday noon Friday Islamic sermons and prayers would instead begin at 1:15 p.m., after employees left work.
It is likely that the change of government will see private industry follow suit, as was the case in 2006, when the work week changed from Saturday to Wednesday – an Islamic working week followed in some Muslim countries, including ‘Iran and Afghanistan.
Emirati state-linked newspaper The National said all schools will switch to the same work week on the first day of next year’s term.
The UAE government hailed the move as making it “the first country in the world to introduce a national work week shorter than the global five-day week” – a reference to Friday becoming just a half-day.
“The extended weekend is part of the UAE government’s efforts to improve work-life balance and improve social welfare,” the statement added.
The UAE, the region’s premier commercial and financial hub, faces new challenges as Saudi Arabia steps up efforts to attract foreign businesses and investors as it seeks to wean itself off oil.
The kingdom has told all multinational companies that they must move their regional headquarters to Riyadh or risk losing lucrative government contracts by 2024, stoking tensions with less conservative Dubai which has long attracted foreigners with special economic zones. , quality schools, luxury penthouses and a multitude of bars and restaurants.
To further strengthen its image as a cosmopolitan hub, the UAE has made a series of changes to its penal code, which is based on Islamic law, or Sharia law.
Among other things, the overhaul loosened regulations on alcohol consumption, relaxed strict penalties for drug-related offenses, and allowed foreigners to marry, divorce, and inherit wealth according to legal systems. from their country of origin.