On Tuesday 7th December, the United Arab Emirates announced that it will transition to a four-and-a-half day working week, with Friday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday forming the new weekend. The changes are set to come into force on 1 January 2022 and will be mandatory for all federal entities.

This change makes the UAE the first nation in the world to introduce a national working week shorter than the global five-day week. The government explained that the shift is to “boost productivity and improve work-life balance."

The government also stated that the move to a Western-style working week would “align the UAE with global markets, ensuring smooth financial, trade and economic transactions with other countries that follow a Saturday/Sunday weekend."

As Friday is the Muslim holy day, work will end at 12 pm local time to allow people to attend prayers. Prayers will now begin at 1.15 pm local time (roughly an hour later than at present). Civil servants will be given the opportunity to work from home on Fridays or arrange their hours on a flexi-time basis.

At present, these changes are only mandatory for the public sector and schools, however it is likely that the private sector will follow suit.

If you are interested in doing business in the UAE, find out everything you need to know about payroll, tax, social security, employee benefits, work permits, employment law and more in the activpayroll Guide to Doing Business in the UAE. This is available as a free PDF to download.

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