The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is set to switch its weekend to Saturday and Sunday to attract investment and business from around the world, according to a Bloomberg report.
The move will set the country apart from other Gulf nations, including Saudi Arabia, which currently have a Sunday-Thursday working week.
From January 1, 2022 the UAE will also adopt a four-and-a-half day week, with Friday – a holy day in Islam – becoming a half day.
Bloomberg describes the UAE’s change as part of the country’s continuing efforts ‘to maintain its status as the Gulf’s pre-eminent business hub. Regional competition from neighbouring Saudi Arabia is rising as the oil-producing heavyweight engages in an unprecedented drive to attract overseas investment and diversify its economy.’
The private sector will not be forced to abide by the official changes to the working week. Bloomberg Economics said: ‘The decision will make the UAE more attractive as a regional destination for foreign companies. But the appeal of private-sector jobs will further diminish if the 4-1/2 workweek doesn’t extend beyond government entities.’
During 2021, the UAE has reportedly spent more than US$6 billion to encourage 75,000 citizens into private-sector jobs. ‘Like other Gulf countries, the UAE has a large proportion of citizens working in state jobs that offer better pay but shorter hours,’ said Bloomberg.