UAE Shifting Weekends To Saturday & Sunday

UAE Shifting Weekends To Saturday & Sunday

20

While this is only tangentially travel related, the United Arab Emirates is a popular transit point for international travelers, so I find this update to be pretty noteworthy…

Friday will no longer be weekend in UAE

In some Muslim countries, weekends are on Fridays and Saturdays, with Sunday being the first day of the work week. This is largely because Friday is an important day for religion, so it makes sense to have that as a day where people don’t work… well, at least that was the case until now.

As of January 1, 2022, the UAE will be shifting around its working schedule:

  • The UAE will shift to a 4.5 day work week, with a half day of work on Friday (with work ending at 12PM), and then Saturday and Sunday will be the weekend
  • This is intended to better align the UAE with global markets, since most of the rest of the world works Monday through Friday
  • This is also intended to improve employees’ work-life balance, as people are essentially getting an extra half day for their weekend
  • While these new guidelines will apply to government enterprises and schools, private companies will continue to be able to choose their own work week (though I imagine most will align with the new system)

The UAE won’t be the first Muslim country to have a Saturday and Sunday weekend (for example, Indonesia and Morocco have that as their weekend), but it will be one of the only countries in the Gulf to change around its weekend like this. I’m curious to see if other countries in the region follow the UAE’s lead.

Friday will no longer be the weekend in the UAE

What this means for travelers

There are a couple of funny implications here when it comes to travel. First of all, as a traveler I’ve always kind of loved the UAE having a different weekend. For example, if you land in the UAE on a Thursday, the weekend is already getting started (even if I’m still working). Then you have two full days of the official weekend, but then on Sunday it still feels like the weekend to me, since I work around the US schedule.

Also, the UAE is known for its extravagant Friday brunches, typically at hotels, and often with free flowing alcohol. Presumably these will soon be Saturday brunches.

Friday brunch will become Saturday brunch

Bottom line

As of 2022, the UAE will be introducing a new work week schedule. Rather than having the weekend be on Friday and Saturday, the weekend will instead be on Saturday and Sunday, with a half day on Friday.

This only officially applies to government sector jobs and schools, though I’d be surprised if most private businesses don’t transition as well. Religion aside, it’s certainly good for business to have more overlap with the rest of the world in terms of working hours.

What do you make of the UAE’s weekend transition?

Conversations (20)
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  1. Sexy_kitten7 Guest

    That's fascinating! I had no idea as an ignorant American. An an aside, my coworker thought that Egyptians were extinct!

  2. D. O'Brien Guest

    Kind of disappointing, to be honest.

    One of the better parts of travel is experiencing the varied cultures and practices, and while UAE can be largely sterile in terms of culture (looking at you Dubai), there are still minor aspects that still give you a true sense of a different culture, and this was one of them.

    Sooner or later, UAE is going to be one giant tourist/expat ground with little to no culture, all...

    Kind of disappointing, to be honest.

    One of the better parts of travel is experiencing the varied cultures and practices, and while UAE can be largely sterile in terms of culture (looking at you Dubai), there are still minor aspects that still give you a true sense of a different culture, and this was one of them.

    Sooner or later, UAE is going to be one giant tourist/expat ground with little to no culture, all shunned away in the vain of being like the west.

    What also doesn't make much sense is that many places and businesses would work Fridays as normal to coincide with their clients or Western counterparts, so I'm not sure what this change does to adjust that?

    Either way, to me this seems like a useless change that doesn't change much for those who already work those periods, and changes things unnecessarily for others, all while losing a touch of what makes UAE different.

    True shame, but what can you expect from the UAE after all in their race to be as Western as possible at any cost.

    1. Aaron Guest

      "Sooner or later, UAE is going to be one giant tourist/expat ground with little to no culture, all shunned away in the vain of being like the west."

      It already is that.

  3. Dave Guest

    I doubt this will apply the millions of psuedo-slaves that build the shiny towers and live in shockingly sqaulid accomodations far away from the city - out of sight out of mind. Working 12+ hour days 6 days a week in the sun and tricked into making less than the 10usd a day they were promised. Passports confiscated.

  4. Huh ? Guest

    wrong

    Weekends are Thursday/Friday. with work week Saturday to Wednesday.

  5. Stanley Guest

    @Lucky How do you think this will in any possible way affect the free weekend night certificates? Yes, right now, it is for any day of the week, but when things are back to normal, do you think hotels such as Hilton and IHG brands would update their weekend policy to reflect this?

  6. Apso Eyot Guest

    Wow! I wasn’t even aware that the UAE had different days as the weekend than most of the world in the first place. Great how they are aligning things now.

  7. Grey Member

    As someone who has often worked weekends, I don't quite understand how it feels different to you. If you are working on Friday, but it is weekend there, you are working anyways, so what is the difference? Or is it just psychological because you tell yourself it is the weekend?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Grey -- You're absolutely right, it's entirely psychological. But there's something fun about working while sitting at the pool and watching other people having fun and relaxing.

  8. Jake Donson Guest

    Groundbreaking ;)

  9. Laura Guest

    If there is a country that will allow its citizens and even non-citizens to work less, it’s the UAE. They already had MANY paid holidays. Gotta say it’s a bit refreshing.

    1. Barry Guest

      I strongly disagree that we dont work hard in the UAE. Since most of our cross border clients work Friday, often times so do we, notwithstanding it's our weekend.

      As for public holidays, UAE does have around 12 per year, which is better than the US.

    2. Jan Guest

      I don't think that's what she means. I'm sure that the UAE, and a good chunk of Europe, works hard too, even if less days/hours and more PTO, it's just American management seems to be cool with 50+ hr work weeks and dwindling time off.

  10. Sean M. Diamond

    I remember when the UAE changed from Thu-Fri weekends to the current Fri-Sat. Can't have been longer ago than the mid-2000s I believe.

    1. SullyofDoha Guest

      Yes, It was 2004 or 2005 when several GCC countries changed from thursday and friday to friday and saturday. Hopefully, the collectivist mentality kicks in and other GCC countries move to the 4.5 work week :)

  11. Endre Guest

    Sunday is even for Christians the first day of the week, Ben.

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      “first day of the work week”

      But what would you know of work Endre?

      Continuously flying first class (all cash, no points & miles tricks) as you do.

    2. Endre Guest

      Ben already edited the article. It said “first day of the week” when he first published it. And please, don’t confuse me with the other Endre.

    3. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Endre -- I do often edit articles and gladly acknowledge when I do (because I make mistakes), but in this case I haven't made any edits since publishing.

    4. Never In Doubt Guest

      SO MANY ENDRES, SO LITTLE TIME.

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The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

D. O'Brien Guest

Kind of disappointing, to be honest. One of the better parts of travel is experiencing the varied cultures and practices, and while UAE can be largely sterile in terms of culture (looking at you Dubai), there are still minor aspects that still give you a true sense of a different culture, and this was one of them. Sooner or later, UAE is going to be one giant tourist/expat ground with little to no culture, all shunned away in the vain of being like the west. What also doesn't make much sense is that many places and businesses would work Fridays as normal to coincide with their clients or Western counterparts, so I'm not sure what this change does to adjust that? Either way, to me this seems like a useless change that doesn't change much for those who already work those periods, and changes things unnecessarily for others, all while losing a touch of what makes UAE different. True shame, but what can you expect from the UAE after all in their race to be as Western as possible at any cost.

1
Laura Guest

If there is a country that will allow its citizens and even non-citizens to work less, it’s the UAE. They already had MANY paid holidays. Gotta say it’s a bit refreshing.

1
Sean M. Diamond

I remember when the UAE changed from Thu-Fri weekends to the current Fri-Sat. Can't have been longer ago than the mid-2000s I believe.

1
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