UAE adopts a 4.5-day work week, making it the first country in the world to do so

To better align its economy with global markets, the UAE announced on Tuesday that it would switch to a four-and-a-half-day work week beginning next year, with the entire weekend occurring on Saturday and Sunday. The oil-producing Gulf state, which is the region’s commercial, commerce, and tourism powerhouse, is celebrating a Friday-Saturday weekend. On January 1, 2022, the new weekend would begin on a Friday afternoon. According to the UAE’s state news agency, WAM, the country is the first in the world to implement a national working week that is shorter than the global five-day week.

In the face of intensifying economic competition from neighboring Saudi Arabia, the UAE has taken steps in the last year to make its economy more appealing to global investment and expertise.

The decision, according to the government, will ensure seamless financial, commercial, and economic activities with nations that observe a Saturday-Sunday weekend. It would aid in the promotion of stronger international business relations and opportunities for thousands of UAE-based and global enterprises.

The new working week will also align the UAE’s financial industry with global real-time trading and communications-based transactions, such as those that power global stock exchanges, banks, and financial institutions.

In several Muslim-majority countries, Friday is a weekly holiday. Friday working hours will end at noon, ahead of their weekly prayers, according to the announcement. According to the announcement, the extra weekend is part of the UAE’s efforts to improve work-life balance. Government employees, according to WAM, would be able to work from home on Fridays and schedule their work hours flexibly.

Following extensive benchmarking and feasibility studies, the Federal Authority for Government Human Resources proposed the new workweek, taking into account potential effects on the economy, social and familial relationships, and general well-being of UAE residents.

The UAE has also liberalised rules governing cohabitation before marriage, alcohol, and personal status, as well as offering longer-term visas, in order to recruit and retain talent and encourage new firms to set up shop.

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