Praying in workwear, shorter classes: How the UAE marked its first working Friday

Residents enjoyed a smooth start to the new UAE weekend

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Photos by Shihab
Photos by Shihab

Published: Fri 7 Jan 2022, 6:57 PM

Last updated: Fri 7 Jan 2022, 11:16 PM

UAE's streets hummed with activity as residents headed to work and school for the first time on a Friday.

Earlier this week, residents experienced their first Monday blues on January 3 as the country officially began the workweek.

And on Friday, students set alarms for 6am and employees ditched their casual weekend attire for professional wear to mark UAE's new workweek. Take a look at some of the highlights.

Students enjoy shorter class times

Supplied photo
Supplied photo

Though waking up on a Friday felt 'strange' to some students, they welcomed the shorter class times with excitement.

Friday was the first half-day for schools, with students finishing their classes at noon. Schools condensed class times and shortened breaks to accommodate the new 2.5-day weekend.

First working Friday commute

Cars, buses and taxis lined up on the roads as employees returned home after a day at work.

Praying in workwear

Call for prayer on Fridays are generally given before 12pm, but it was a little different on January 7. As the UAE transitioned into shorter workweek, and Fridays being a half-day at work, the call for prayer was given at 12.25pm.

Several officegoers turned up in workwear for Friday prayers instead of traditional outfits, as they had come straight from work.

Deserted beaches

Previous Fridays would've seen residents relaxing by the beach, but as schools and offices adopted the new workweek, Al Mamzar Beach saw only a few visitors.

Healthcare workers, patients pray together

Supplied photo
Supplied photo

A private hospital in Abu Dhabi made special arrangements for all its healthcare workers and patients to offer Jumuah prayers together. More than 20 patients undergoing treatment joined for prayers at Burjeel Medical City in Mohamed bin Zayed City.

Flexible hours help working parents adjust

Parents in the UAE have credited flexible hours and work-from-home options to helping them adjust to the new workweek, which sees their kids attending school on Fridays.

The Federal Authority for Government Human Resources recently released new remote work regulations, allowing employees who live far from their workplaces or have exceptional circumstances to work from home on Fridays.

'A good start to the new weekend'

Many residents were also delighted with the response they received at their businesses.

Khalid Ahmed, a Syrian expat and owner of Trendy Restaurant in Deira, said it was the first time he opened the shop early on Friday.

“I received so many customers for breakfast today. The restaurant is located in the government office vicinity and we received a good response,” said Ahmed.

Preparing for Jumuah prayers

Several residents have said the authorities' decision to allot ample time for officegoers for Friday prayers is commendable.

The government sector worked until noon this Friday, and many employees from the sector attended the prayer at Yaqub Mosque in Deira, due to the number of governments offices in the vicinity.

“Alhamdulillah, we all had enough time to prepare for Jumuah prayer," said a worshipper, who works in a government department.

A work day like any other

Despite being a first, employees in the northern Emirates said Friday was a normal working day, just like any other, during which they received customers and clients and completed transactions in record time.

Employees also lauded the shorter workweek, which they say will increase productivity and improve mental health.

All smiles for the first 2.5-day weekend

Supplied photo
Supplied photo

Though residents are still getting used to the idea of working on a Friday, there's one thing to look forward to: A longer weekend.

Students and employees have said they will use their free time to exercise, pursue new hobbies and spend time with family. Many are also hopeful that the longer weekend will give them sufficient time to relax and recharge.

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