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UAE becomes first country to transition to 4-and-half day work week

DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates on Tuesday announced to change its existing five-day workweek to a four-and-a-half day starting January 1, becoming the world's first country to make the employee-friendly transition as part of its efforts to improve productivity and work-life balance.

According to the new schedule, Monday to Thursday the work timings would be from 7.30 am to 3.30 pm, followed by a half day on Friday from 7.30 am to 12.00 pm, said the UAE Government Media Office.

Saturdays and Sundays are full-day holidays under the new rule. The government said: "Longer weekends to boost productivity and improve work-life balance; starting from 1st of January, 2022."

In line with the announcement, the government said all Friday sermons and prayers would be held after 1.15 pm henceforth.

Further, employees would be offered flexible working hours and work-from-home options on Friday. The government's move is expected to make it come closer to timings of the US, the UK and Europe, boosting commerce.

The new system will first be implemented in all federal government entities; schools, colleges and private institutions are expected to follow suit. The Emirati governments of Dubai and Abu Dhabi have already announced the four-and-a-half day workweek.

The UAE Government Media Office said the extended weekend comes as part of efforts to boost work-life balance and enhance social wellbeing, while increasing performance to advance the country's economic competitiveness.

From an economic perspective, the new working week will better align the Emirates with global markets, reflecting the country's strategic status on the global economic map.

"It will ensure smooth financial, trade and economic transactions with countries that follow a Saturday/Sunday weekend, facilitating stronger international business links and opportunities for thousands of UAE-based and multinational companies," the media office said.

The move will ensure smooth financial, trade and economic transactions with countries that follow a Saturday/Sunday weekend, facilitating stronger international business links and opportunities for thousands of UAE-based and multinational companies.

The new working week will also bring the UAE's financial sector into closer alignment with global real-time trading and communications-based transactions such as those driving global stock markets, banks and financial institutions.

The move is expected to boost not only trading opportunities but also add to the flexible, secure, and enjoyable lifestyle the UAE offers its citizens and residents, the report said.

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