The United Arab Emirates rang in 2022 by becoming the first country in the world to adopt a four-and-a-half-day workweek. Effective January 1, 2022, all federal government entities in the country will operate four-and-a-half days per week, with the weekend starting mid-day Friday and lasting through Sunday. Work hours are now 7:30 am to 3:30 pm on Monday through Thursday, and 7:30 am to Noon on Friday. Previously, employees of government entities in the UAE worked a five-day workweek, with a Friday-Saturday weekend.
In making this change, the UAE has deviated from other Gulf countries that have a Friday-Saturday weekend. The change brings the UAE’s work schedule more in line with Western nations. The Abu Dhabi government media office has said the change is “in line with the UAE’s vision to enhance its global competitiveness across economic and business sectors, and to keep pace with global developments.”
Although the change exclusively effects public employees, it is expected that many private employers will follow suit. Indeed, several multi-national private companies have already announced the adoption of a four-and-a-half-day workweek for their UAE operations.