UAE announces 4.5-day workweek, Saturday-Sunday weekend

The UAE Government has announced new weekend rules for the public sector that will be effective from 1st January 2022. Under the new directives, the weekend will move from the current iteration of Friday and Saturday, to the more globally prolific combination of Saturday and Sunday. The government also announced that the public sector will transition to a 4.5 day working week, with Friday becoming a half-day. In this article we take an in-depth look at these groundbreaking decisions and the subsequent implications across the UAE.


On 7th December 2021, the UAE Government’s Media Office made a landmark announcement regarding a new weekend, adjusted workweek and amended prayer timings that will become effective from 1st January 2022.

Proposed by the Federal Authority for Government Human Resources, the following changes were declared:


From January 2022, the public sector in the UAE will follow a 4.5 day workweek.

From Monday to Thursday, employees will adhere to the full-day timings, 07:30 am to 03:30 pm. On Friday, work hours are set to a half-day, i.e. 07:30 am to 12:00 pm.

With this shift, the UAE will be the first country to introduce a national working week shorter than the international five-day week.

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From an economic standpoint, this shift can play a key role in aligning the UAE with global markets. Placing the country on the international economic map, the new weekend rules in the UAE can help boost international business and open up opportunities for numerous organisations throughout the UAE.

With the new weekend, the financial sector can align with global real-time trading and communications-based activities, such as those driving financial institutions, banks and international stock markets. It can also help ease trade, financial and economic transactions with countries that follow a Saturday/Sunday weekend.


The Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, Dr Abdulrahman Al Awar, stated that the private sector can choose whether to transition to the new weekend or stay with the current iteration. He did however express that he anticipates private sector companies to embrace the new weekend of Saturday/Sunday:

“They make their decisions based on what they feel will improve their competitive position and they will make wise decisions that suit their companies,” he said.

Considering that schools in the UAE are also transitioning to the new weekend, it would be a major surprise if the vast majority of private sector companies didn’t follow suit.


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