New UAE weekend: Residents readjust calendars, look forward to shorter workweek

December 26, 2021 was the last working Sunday for many in the country


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Mon 27 Dec 2021, 4:24 PM

Last updated: Mon 27 Dec 2021, 9:52 PM

People in the UAE are gearing up for the new work schedule and embracing the new weekend as they readjust their calendars.

December 26, 2021, was the last working Sunday for many in the country. Families are now busy adjusting their daily schedules as the UAE is set to follow the new four-and-a-half-day workweek starting January 2022.

This regulation likely makes UAE the first country to formalise a workweek shorter than five days, and it also brings the country more in line with global schedules.

Ben Lebig and family. Photo: Supplied
Ben Lebig and family. Photo: Supplied

Ben Lebig, a Filipino expat living in Dubai, says, “For me, it's not much of a change as I work in the oil and gas sector and report to Singapore. Since Singapore has always been working Monday to Friday, I received emails on Fridays to which I always had to respond. So, this global alignment proves to be beneficial for people like us. I can now completely rest and relax on my weekends which will be Saturday and Sunday.

He adds, “I only need to make minor adjustments, tweaking schedules for my daughter on Fridays as her school day would end by noon. As for family outings, activities will move from Fridays to Saturday or Sunday. All in all, it’s a welcome change, and I am happy about it.

"I am optimistic, we would soon settle down well with this shift towards the new Monday to Friday workweek and confident that this will ease the financial transactions internationally and will prove to boost the local economy.”


Natalia Miranda, an American expat living in Dubai for the past five years, says, "The challenge will be when children go back to school. Schedules will have to be reworked as schools will add extra time to the day's timetable. We are all gearing up for it. I hope we don't get mixed up in the head — so instead of a Sunday to Thursday, it's now going to be Monday to Friday. We will have to train our brain once again.”

Natalia Miranda. Photo: Supplied
Natalia Miranda. Photo: Supplied

Natalia continued, "I came from the Netherlands and there the working week was from Monday to Friday. So, when we moved to UAE, it was a bit of change as Friday was weekly off. Now, it's again Monday to Friday. So, we need to tell ourselves and readjust and work out new calendars. All ladies' outings scheduled for Friday's will now move to Saturdays or maybe Sundays. Family gatherings and other such things will also move accordingly. But ultimately, we'll adapt; it's just a matter of time."

Despite the nascent change in routines, residents across different segments say ultimately this move is aimed at improving economic and lifestyle benefits.

Managing Partner & Founder of GreenHawk, Nikunj Aggarwal, says, "It's a great initiative towards healthier lifestyle from the UAE government, and we support it. The idea behind reducing the workweek will increase efficiency and put emphasis on productive results. The country has always been a step ahead in planning and strategising fabulous initiatives. This move reflects the country's continued efforts that put its citizens at the core. We look forward to ringing in the New Year with a new initiative."

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