UAE: Here's how families are preparing kids for the shift to the new weekend

Parents are especially making arrangements for students to attend the half-day classes on Friday


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Sun 26 Dec 2021, 4:53 PM

Families of school-going children in the UAE are gearing up for the country's new weekend especially making arrangements for the half-day on Fridays from January 2022.

Private schools in most Emirates will adopt the new 4.5-day workweeks. Institutions will begin the week on Mondays, with classes on Fridays not going beyond 12pm.

Because Friday sermons and prayers will be hosted after 1.15pm on Fridays, Muslim students will be able to attend the congregational prayer after school. They will also enjoy the rest of the day off, along with Saturday and Sunday.

Parents are happy about the extra time on Fridays but are also busy making alternative arrangements for Friday early after-school pick-ups.

Indian expat Nausheen S says "I live in Sharjah and my child goes to school in Dubai. My husband usually does the pick-up during a specific slot. Now if school timings are extended, there will be a lot of confusion as to who would pick up my daughter. School buses are expensive, for which parents need to shell out extra money. But if nothing else works, that'll be the only op,tion for us."

"Besides, Fridays will be a challenge as schools get over early and I might just be busy at work as rules are different in the private sector. We anticipate the Dubai-Sharjah traffic situation at that hour may be bad as many people will be rushing to pick up their children and then go to the mosque as gatherings and worship will begin from 1.15pm. But for now, we feel, let's take one step at a time."


Expats agree that, as a nation that wholeheartedly champions well-being, family values and work-life balance, these new changes will become a natural part of everyone's routine in due course of time.

Malaysian expat Noor Nazri says, "Any change is initially difficult. Logistically it will impact families at first. But people adapt. There might be some adjustment issues in the beginning as we must pick up our children quickly from school and then head to the mosque. Tailbacks and traffic jams around the school areas is also common. So, pushing through the traffic and then reaching on time for the prayers will be difficult."

"But as my wife is a homemaker, it will be less of a challenge for people like us. But then again, family schedules, especially on Fridays, will undergo a massive overhaul. But it'll become a part of the system soon as humans are creatures of habit."

For non-Muslim families, the change in timings does not affect schedules to the same extent as it affects Muslim households.

American expat Valeriya Bach says, "It might be a bit challenging for families who are looking to go to the mosque to offer Friday prayers. I am planning to utilize the extra time on Fridays for finishing my children's homework. I am frankly fine with it as I am home, and it doesn't impact me or my routine as much."

"But I understand the day's schedule for most families in the UAE will need to be altered. My children are quite grown up and they can do things on their own. But with younger children, it definitely gets more difficult to manage."

"I have requested my line manager to tweak the week's roster as my child will be back home on Fridays by 12pm. My office works on a weekly rota (rotation) basis. Even private sector offices, I think, are trying to accommodate their employees' requests as much as possible", says Shreya Chakraborty, who works in a media company in the UAE.

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