UAE: Some private firms to switch to Saturday-Sunday weekend from next year

Business leaders hail decision; move will ensure that the UAE syncs its weekend to the rest of the world, making it more competitive than, they say

File photo

Waheed Abbas

Published: Tue 7 Dec 2021, 6:36 PM

Last updated: Thu 9 Dec 2021, 2:47 PM

Some UAE private sector companies on Tuesday announced that they will also be switching their weekends to Saturday-Sunday from next year, in line with the government’s decision.

The UAE Government on Tuesday announced that the public sector will have a 4.5-day working week, weekends will start on Friday afternoon and end on Sunday, from next year.


Dr Abdul Rahman Al Awar, UAE Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, stressed 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.

The private sector had modified its working pattern when the UAE's working week moved from Thursday-Friday to Friday-Saturday in 2006. Private sectors in the UAE are expected to adopt the new work week schedule to maintain business flow.

Dubai’s budget carrier flydubai announced that it will follow the government’s decision.

“Flydubai welcomes this announcement and we will follow the guidelines as set out by the authorities,” said a flydubai spokesperson.

Adeeb Ahamed, managing director of Lulu Financial Holdings, said the latest shift to a Saturday-Sunday weekend signifies the UAE's openness to align the economy with global markets and make positive changes that will attract top global talent and companies to its shores.

“This landmark decision is expected to inspire the private sector to rethink the workplace culture. As one of the region’s largest financial services providers, we will soon launch our internal study to see how best this model can be adapted into our work-week policy,” added Ahamed.

Vijay Gandhi, regional director for EMEA at global management consulting firm Korn Ferry, said the overlap in working days with the rest of the world will bring in the homogeneous working environment with the rest of the world.

Also read:

“However, there will still be companies with operations, clients and partners in the wider Gulf region who will have to continue operating on Sundays… With a more flexible work environment, the transition to the new weekend wouldn’t be that difficult,” he added.

Increased productivity

Bal Krishen, chairman and CEO of Century Financial, said some of the employees now work from Sunday to Thursday while others are on from Monday to Friday due to the nature of international financial markets. “If all employees have the same work schedule, it is bound to increase the company's overall productivity. Moreover, it will help reduce the stress of some employees who have to work a different schedule,” he said.

“The Saturday-Sunday weekend will boost trade and economic transactions with countries that follow a Saturday-Sunday weekend, helping us compete with the best economies and further strengthen the country’s position as a fast-growing global business hub in the region,” he added.

He added that the new working week will also bring the UAE’s financial sector into closer alignment with global real-time trading and communications-based transactions.

“Additionally, being closely aligned to the Western counterpart, many multinational companies who want to set up their Middle East base would likely choose UAE as their preferred destination compared to the other GCC nations,” he added.

The Dubai-based Shakespeare Communications also announced that it will be revising working hours and days from January in line with the government.

“We'll be trialling a working week of Monday to Friday, as our international clients often request meetings on Fridays. It will be much easier to liaise with the US and we'll trial Friday afternoons to accommodate our European clients too,” the agency said in a statement.

While hailing the government’s move, Ola Lind, director of FTFT Capital, said the move to a Saturday-Sunday weekend will require significant investment in system upgrades to ensure a smooth transition for the public accessing such services.

“The shorter work week highlights the UAE’s drive towards a government-driven approach to adopting best practices in work-life balance. The expectation is to have enhanced productivity, improved employee satisfaction, better work-life balance and mental health. The day is not far when even the private sector will take the learnings and apply the same flexibility to its employees,” said Lind.

Financial sector top beneficiary

The Dubai-based leading finance platform for global trade and export financing, 360tf, has also decided to shift weekends in line with the public sectors.

“We welcome the move of the UAE government to move to a Monday-Friday work week and our management has happily decided to align our work week accordingly. This is also a great move from the banking perspective, as this would enable local banks to compete more effectively with global banks across the world and participate in treasury, letter of credit confirmation and global remittance transactions more efficiently,” said Pankaj Mundra, co-founder and chairman of 360tf.

Mareva Koulamallah, head of marketing and communications for the Middle East and Africa at Acronis, said the move to a Saturday-Sunday weekend will assist in aligning with the global market hubs such as Hong Kong, London and New York.

“The move will ensure that the UAE syncs its weekend to the rest of the world, making it more competitive than it already is. The decision-making, systems and processes will certainly work smoother and faster and the connectivity with the east and west will be enhanced. We would not be surprised if many of the companies adopt this weekend and we think the early adopters will have an edge over the others,” Koulamallah added.

Nitin Agarwal, president of UAE startup Hundred, said initially, big corporates and Technology companies that have multi-country operations will move to Saturday-Sunday weekend as these directly would gain from higher productivity, and eventually, most of the businesses will follow suit.

“I think eventually this shift is going to move to all the sectors in the UA, including the private sector and education as well,” said Ayman Youssef, vice-president of Coldwell Banker.

Ahmed Shaikhani, president of Pakistan Business Council, Dubai, new measures will support the investors in the UAE and the Council will follow the UAE government’s direction.

Nasreen Ali, CEO, Hunza Global Ventures, Dubai. Said more free time in a week, without work stress, will boost employee health, wellbeing and time with family.

Waheed Abbas

Published: Tue 7 Dec 2021, 6:36 PM

Last updated: Thu 9 Dec 2021, 2:47 PM

Recommended for you