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.
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.
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?