UAE moves weekends to Saturday and Sunday

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The United Arab Emirates is breaking ranks with the rest of the Gulf by moving governmental employees' weekends to Saturday and Sunday, as part of a campaign to attract international investment and business.

The United Arab Emirates, which has been the commercial capital of the Middle East for more than a decade and is facing increasing regional competition from Saudi Arabia, is attempting to recast itself as a global economic powerhouse.

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It presently operates on a Sunday-to-Thursday schedule, similar to other Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia. The changes, which the government claims would allow the UAE to better align with global markets, will take effect on Jan. 1 and will affect the public sector and schools. According to the federal government, there would be a four-and-a-half-day work week, with Friday, an Islamic holy day, being a half-day.

According to Abdulrahman Al Awar, director-general of the Federal Authority for Government Human Resources, "the private sector will have the liberty to pick the weekend." He claims that businesses can keep their flexibility as long as they follow labour laws. The country's labour code stipulates a maximum working week of 48 hours and a minimum of one day off per week.

The KHDA schools body in Dubai stated in a tweet on Tuesday that all private schools in Dubai will switch to the new weekend, and that it is "working closely with our community to facilitate a smooth transition."

According to Nabil Alyousuf, CEO of Dubai-based International Advisory Group, the adjustments "will expand the number of days we do business with the rest of the globe, which will promote trade."

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