Weekend as in the West: The Emirates is changing the work week

To boost its integration into international markets and turn it into a global economic center, the Emirates has announced that the work week will be changed and shortened: it will take place between Monday and Friday at noon. “The change will contribute to a flexible lifestyle, there will be more time with the family,” the government announced. In the background: growing competition against Saudi Arabia for attracting foreign investors

The UAE announced that from the beginning of next year the official working week will change and be shortened: instead of taking place between Sunday and Thursday, it will start on Monday and end on Friday at noon. This week’s holiday will also continue on Sunday, in a way that is much more in line with the rest hours of the Western-Christian world.

This is a rather dramatic change for the Muslim country, and is now one of the few countries in the Middle East that will operate on the basis of Western Labor Week. The emirates have financial institutions of global importance, and the move will make it possible to increase their integration in markets around the world, with growing competition between the emirates and its Gulf neighbors – led by Saudi Arabia – and their attempts to attract foreign companies and investors.

A government statement in Abu Dhabi stated that the change in the working week would apply to public sector workers, but estimates are that the private sector will also change its working hours. The Emirates have made it clear that this move will help make it a global economic center. “The new work week will better adapt the UAE financial sector to real-time global communications-based transactions,” it said.

As part of the change in working hours, it was further stipulated that on Friday the Muslim prayer of the noon hours, which is usually held on the basis of the location of the sun in the sky, will now begin on all days of the year at 13:15. To allow employees to attend the prayer, the work day on Friday, which will begin at 7:30 a.m., will end as early as 12:00 p.m. The working hours for the other four days will be 15: 30-07: 30.

The United Arab Emirates, a federation of seven emirates of which Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the best known, is the most important financial center of the Gulf region. Dubai is the focus of this activity, attracting foreign workers and foreign companies through shopping centers, quality schools, luxurious penthouses and a wide range of bars, restaurants and entertainment centers. Among other things, it houses an international financial center that serves as a particularly convenient hub for brokering stock traders in the Asian and European markets.

In another attempt to attract foreigners to the Emirates – which make up a large majority of its 9.5 million inhabitants – the authorities there have also made extensive changes to the law book, which is based on Sharia (Islamic law). Among other things, the authorities allowed foreign couples to live together without getting married and eased regulations restricting alcohol consumption and penalties for drug use offenses. Foreigners can now marry, divorce and make wills based on the legal rules customary in their countries of origin.

The current move, which many in the Emirates have long estimated will come sooner or later, comes amid growing competition from Saudi Arabia. The neighboring kingdom, also under the leadership of Regent Mohammed bin Salman, is also promoting a series of ambitious reforms and projects aimed at enabling it to recover from its reliance on the oil industry. As part of the competition for foreign investors vis-à-vis Dubai, Saudi Arabia has announced that foreign companies wishing to win prestigious government contracts will have to relocate their headquarters to the capital Riyadh by 2024.

By Editor

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