Abu Dhabi and London (CNN) – The United Arab Emirates And its international financial centre, Dubai, will change the working week to four and a half days ending at noon on Friday to facilitate global business.
The government said in a statement that the change from the current schedule from Sunday to Thursday, which is the first in a Gulf country, will help the UAE “to achieve business continuity and compatibility with the world’s economies and banks.” The change takes effect January 1st and will apply to employees and public schools.
The Muslim-majority United Arab Emirates said work would end at 12pm local time (3am Miami time) on Friday to allow people to attend prayers. Friday is the holiest day of the week for Muslims. Starting in January, prayers will begin at 1:15 p.m. local time, about an hour later.
The government said public sector employees will also be given the ability to work flexibly on Friday, including from home.
Abdul Rahman Al Awar, Director General of Human Resources in the UAE government, said that private companies will be able to choose the weekend they deem fit for their business, as long as employees have at least one day off.
“So each company will decide based on what sector they’re in, based on their customers and the operations they run,” he told CNN.
Other Muslim-majority countries, such as Indonesia, Turkey, Morocco and Malaysia, have adopted the Monday-Friday schedule.
The change, while easing trade relations around the world, will mean that the UAE will no longer be out of sync with neighbors such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait.
Dubai government ad He will change his work week in line with UAE policy.
This is not the first time that the UAE has changed its work week. Between 1999 and 2006, the country had a Thursday-Friday weekend, before changing it to Friday and Saturday.
– Caroline Farag, contributor from Dubai, and Celine Al-Khalidi from Abu Dhabi.