The move is to come in effect from January 1. Earlier, Friday and Saturday were official holidays, and Sunday was a working day.
Showing its willingness to align more with the Western work schedule, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) shifted its weekdays from Sunday-Thursday to Monday-Friday. Friday will be half a working day in government offices to allow the staff time to prepare for Friday prayers. Private corporations are expected to follow suit.
“The new working week will also bring the UAE’s financial sector into closer alignment with global real-time trading and communications-based transactions,” the government statement read, adding the new system aims to “boost not only trading opportunities, but also add to the flexible, secure and enjoyable lifestyle the Emirates offers its citizens and residents.”
In 2006, the UAE shifted its weekdays from Saturday-Wednesday to Sunday-Thursday. The UAE, which is already giving tough challenges to its neighbours in attracting foreign investment, has introduced several reforms lately to make it a more attractive destination.
The cluster of monarchies governed by Sharia principles introduced tougher laws against the harassment of women, allowed unmarried couples to live together, and completely decriminalized alcohol consumption. It also reduced the sentence for the consumption of drugs.
The reforms have given UAE a certain edge over Saudi Arabia. Another important moment was in September 2020, when the UAE announced it would normalize relations with Israel, a step that most other Arab countries — and all other Gulf states — have opposed.
Saudi Arabia is also making efforts to wean itself off the oil economy and introduce reforms to attract foreign capital. The Saudi authorities recently announced the opening of cinema halls in Medina, a move opposed by conservative Muslims. Medina is a sacred city for Muslims all over the world.