Though the UAE will soon adopt a new weekday schedule that spans just four-and-a-half days, the country has officially announced that January 2, 2022, a Sunday, will be a public holiday, giving residents a three day weekend. Starting January 1, half of every Friday will be considered a holiday, with Saturdays and Sundays as the new official weekend days within the country. The Decision was announced on December 7 online.
While the new schedule will be implied on government sectors and schools, private business sectors will not require government approval to set their weekends.
The UAE is currently the only Gulf country to take on a Saturday-Sundway weekend. The alteration was initiated to align the UAE with global markets, “reflecting the country’s strategic status on the global economic map”, according to the UAE Government Media Office. “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.”
In terms of Friday prayers, this change implies the official timing to be permanently changed to 1:15 pm. All schools are expected to move their schedules to the same working week, effective of the first day of the new semester, with hours expected to be announced soon.
The last time the UAE implemented a weekend change was in 2006, when the weekend previously fell on Thursdays and Fridays, making Saturdays the first weekday. Between 1971 and 1999, the number of working days was six, with only Friday mandated as an official weekend. “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 Government Media Office shared.