With just three-and-half-weeks’ notice, the United Arab Emirates government changed the country’s working week. Government employees began working Monday to Friday, with a flexible half day on Fridays, a change from the previous Sunday to Thursday work week.
While the decision was sudden, it wasn’t a surprise. It was one of many initiatives from authorities aimed at boosting the UAE’s post-pandemic economy and helping it stand out among its neighbors.
It also isn’t the first time the country has changed its weekend. The UAE adopted Friday as a weekly holiday back in 1971 and didn’t add Thursday to make it a two-day weekend until 1999. Then in 2006, the weekend was changed to Friday and Saturday.
Steven Valentino is the CEO and founder of the London Project, a restaurant in Dubai that specializes in brunches. The Friday brunch was hugely popular for champagne bottle-popping tourists and a mainstay for the city’s “work hard, play hard” residents, but it has now moved to Saturday.
“When I speak to people that have been here for a long period of time, they have had trouble adjusting. You do notice the change, but I think really, everyone’s adapted quite quickly,” Valentino said.
So, how many private businesses are going along with the change? How does it affect the UAE’s relationship with the rest of the region? Watch our video above to learn more.