New UAE weekend: More private firms switch to Saturday-Sunday off

The government sector will switch to 4.5-day workweek from January 1, 2022


Waheed Abbas

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Published: Wed 8 Dec 2021, 6:10 PM

Last updated: Thu 9 Dec 2021, 2:42 PM

More private sector companies in the UAE on Wednesday announced that they’re switching to the new workweek model from next year in line with the public sector.

The UAE government on Tuesday announced a 4.5-day work week from Monday till Friday afternoon, starting January 1, 2022.

Danube Group, one of the largest private entities employing 4,000 workers, is one of the first few companies to announce the new workweek cycle from next year.


In a statement issued on Wednesday, the group said it’ll retain its two-day weekend (Saturdays and Sundays) rather than have a two-and-a-half starting from Friday afternoon.

The company said it will provide a two-hour break for Friday prayers. While the employees working in retail units and building material outlets will operate according to the market needs.

“Moving our work week from Monday to Friday is extremely beneficial for us as we need to be at par with our global counterparts. The UAE government should be applauded for this move to enhance UAE’S economic competitiveness, enhance well-being and boost work-life balance,” said Rizwan Sajan, chairman and founder of Danube Group.

As reported by Khaleej Times on Tuesday, a number of local companies announced the change in their weekends to Saturday-Sunday from next year.

Dr Abdul Rahman Al Awar, the UAE’s Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, on Tuesday said that as per the new labour law announced recently, private sector employees are entitled to at least one day off per week. This can be increased at the discretion of the company.

Sunder Nurani, chairman of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) – Dubai chapter, said this is one of the biggest and bold steps taken by the government to attract talent and promote creativity which is a focus area as part of the next 50 years programme. “We are happy about this move and are sure that a lot of knowledge sharing will happen when we invite international speakers who are aligned with these holidays. Having Saturday and Sunday as weekends will also align work internationally and will create efficiency on international businesses,” he added.

Abu Dhabi-listed Finance House has announced its transition to a four-and-a-half day working week, with Friday afternoon, Saturday, and Sunday forming the new weekend.

“We continuously strive to offer our employees working conditions that provide them with a better quality of life, improved social well-being, and good work-life balance. We are sure that this four-and-a-half day working week will positively impact our employees, making them happier, more comfortable, and more productive,” said Mohammed Abdulla Alqubaisi, founder of Finance House.

Alqubaisi added: “Starting January 2022, and subject to UAE Central Bank regulation, we will ensure a smooth transition in our business operations that will improve our employees’ welfare and shall ensure that this move does not affect customer service levels.”

Dr Mike Cheetham, global business director of Hotpack Global, the UAE has now become the first nation in the world to introduce a 4.5-day workweek.

“It serves multiple goals as it helps improve work-life balance among people as well as economic competitiveness. This will also enhance the social well-being of employees availing more time for their health. People can target other activities they are interested in like travelling, socialising, and having more quality time with family members,” he added.

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