The UAE Government is to adopt a new four and a half day working week from 1 January, 2022, the Emirates News Agency has announced.
The move applies to Federal government entities and comes alongside new working hours, with Monday to Thursday workdays now starting at 7:30 am and ending at 3:30 pm, and Friday working hours from 7:30 am - 12:00 pm.
Alongside the move, it said, Friday sermons and prayers across the UAE will be held from 1:15pm.
Government staff will have the flexibility to make arrangements to work from home on Fridays, as well as to arrange their working hours on a flexi-time basis.
It further highlighted how the UAE is the first nation in the world to introduce a national working week shorter than the global five-day week.
The extended weekend comes as part of the UAE government's efforts to boost work-life balance and enhance social wellbeing, while increasing performance to advance the UAE's economic competitiveness.
Adopting an agile working system will enable the UAE to rapidly respond to emerging changes and enhance wellbeing in the workplace.
From an economic perspective, the new working week will better align the UAE 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 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 to its citizens and residents.
The Federal Authority for Government Human Resources proposed the new work week following comprehensive benchmarking and feasibility studies reflecting potential impacts of the move on the economy, social and family ties and the overall wellbeing of people in the UAE.
In early reaction, Nigel Green, CEO and founder of Dubai-headquarted deVere Group, said: "This is a major cultural, societal and economic shift that can be expected to provide a massive boost for the UAE economy.
"The UAE, and in particular Dubai and Abu Dhabi are already recognised as two of the most powerful business and financial hubs in the world by international investors who are lured by the incredible possibilities offered in terms of finance, trade and commerce, plus the famous ‘can do' attitude and the low tax environment in these destinations.
"The transition to a four and a half day working week which now aligns with most major economies around the world will prove to be another significant ‘pull' for international corporations that are currently based elsewhere."
"We can expect there to be a steady influx of new wealth and job creating businesses relocating to the UAE on the back of this announcement.
"It provides a further compelling impetus for an already established commerce hub that has an independent judicial system, a global financial exchange, a stable, pro-business government, a high proposition of high net worth individuals, a dynamic business community, world-class infrastructure and telecommunications, English as its de-facto business language, and their enviable, central geographical location and time zone."
The news follows the rollout of new legislation in which the UAE will allow 100% ownership of businesses for foreign nationals from December 1, 2020. Previously, all businesses were required to have a UAE citizen sponsor.