UAE weekend change: All you need to know


Dubai: UAE announced on Tuesday that it will transition to a four-and-a half-day working week, with Friday afternoon, Saturday, and Sunday forming the new weekend. All Federal government departments will move to the new weekend from January 1, 2022.

The authorities added that with this move, the UAE has become the first nation in the world to introduce a national working week shorter than the global five-day week.

In a detailed document released by the UAE Government Media Office, the new weekly work week system was explained. Here are the detailed answers provided by the UAE Government Media Office to the top questions related to the new work week:

1. What is the new weekly work system in the UAE?

The UAE has moved to a four-and-a half-day working week, with Friday afternoon, Saturday, and Sunday forming the new weekend.

2. What are the official working hours approved under the new decision?

• From Monday to Thursday, it is 8 hours a day. On Fridays, it will be 4.5 working hours.

• The official working days and hours in ministries and federal entities have been set from 7.30am to 3.30pm from Monday until Thursday.

• The official working hours on Friday will be from 7.30am to 12 noon.

3. What is the approved weekly holiday period according to the new system?

The weekly holiday has been extended for two and a half days nationwide in the public sector, and will be from Saturday to Sunday, with Friday becoming half a working day.

4. When does the decision take effect?

The decision will take effect as of January 1, 2022, with Sunday, January 2, 2022, to be considered an official holiday for the public sector as part of the new weekend change implementation.

5. What impact does the new work system decision have?

The new work system will:

  • Better align the UAE with global markets and boost business continuity.
  • Bring the UAE’s financial sector into closer alignment with global real-time trading and communications-based transactions.
  • Enhance the UAE’s position within the labour system indicators.
  • Enable employees to effectively engage in activities they could not previously have done, such as starting a business, pursuing education or travelling.

6. Is there any flexibility for the federal authorities in implementing the new work system?

Federal entities can apply flexible working hours and remote work system on Friday but that should be according to the workflow in these entities.

7. Does the decision cover schools? What are the official working hours for schools?

Yes, the decision covers schools in the UAE, and the Ministry of Education will later announce the official working hours after coordination with competent authorities.

8. What are the positive effects of the new decision on the employees’ personal and work lives?

  • Increasing the weekly holiday to two and a half days will have a positive impact on the mental health of employees. It will strengthen familial bonds and community relations as employees will have more time for family, cultural and recreational activities during the holiday.
  • The new system will enable employees from different groups to do activities that they could not do previously, where they can complete their postgraduate studies, participate in training courses, start a business or even travel to different destinations.

9. Is the UAE the first Arab or Islamic country to approve an amendment to the weekly work system to make Friday an official working day?

Most countries of the world adopt Saturday and Sunday as a weekly holiday, including many Arab and Islamic countries, such as Morocco, Turkey, Malaysia, Indonesia and others.

10. Which body is responsible for regulating the new work system details and guidelines?

The Federal Authority for Government Human Resources.

11. What about the rest of the approved holidays in 2022, which fall on Friday or were brought forward to Thursday?

The approved holidays in 2022 will be reviewed and re-approved according to the new system.

12. Does the working timing on Friday conflict with Friday prayer?

There will be no conflict. Friday sermons and prayers across the UAE will be held from 1.15pm throughout the year. 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.

13. Does working on Friday contradict Shariah and religious teachings, especially since it is the day on which Friday prayers are held?

There are no Shariah texts that decide a specific day for the holiday, as evidenced by the Quranic verse, which says: “O you who have believed, when [the azan] is called for the prayer on the day of Jumu’ah [Friday], then proceed to the remembrance of Allah and leave trade. That is better for you, if you only knew!”

Also, the official working time on Friday ends before the Friday prayer is performed, and so it does not conflict with it.

14. Is this the first time that the weekly work system gets modified in the UAE?

Weekends in the UAE have been modified several times:

  • From 1971 to 1999, the UAE adopted Friday as a weekly holiday.
  • From 1999 to 2006, Thursday was added to the weekend to become two days.
  • From 2006 to 2021, the weekend was changed to Friday and Saturday.
  • In 2022, the latest weekend for the public sector will be on Saturday, Sunday, and half of Friday. The new decision comes into effect on January 1, 2022.

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