‘It feels so wrong’: For the first time ever, people in the UAE work on a Friday

Thursday night usually marks the start of the weekend for workers in the United Arab Emirates – but not anymore.

For years, the UAE has joined many Islamic countries in having Friday and Saturday as days off.

But as a new year begins, the country has officially introduced a Western-style working week that will run from Monday to Friday.

Image: State employees only need to work for a half a day on Fridays – the Muslim holy day – so they can attend prayers

Some workers were left feeling a little short-changed upon realising they would have to set their alarms for an early start on Friday.

“It just feels so wrong,” one tweet read.


Rachel King, a British 22-year-old who lives in Dubai, told the AFP news agency: “I’d rather take (Friday) off.

“That is what we all know and love, having a Friday off and going to certain places that are open and we could do things. But now it is going to be Saturday.”

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There are pros and cons to the switch.

State employees only need to work for a half a day on Fridays – the Muslim holy day – so they can attend prayers.

The government says this makes the UAE “the first nation in the world to introduce a national working week shorter than the global five-day week”.

It could also be a boost for businesses based in Abu Dhabi and Dubai – both home to big multinational firms – because their opening times will be better aligned with economies around the world.

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But there are challenges. Some companies have decided to remain on a Sunday to Thursday pattern, leaving workers out of sync with their families and children.

Although Friday may have been rather unpleasant as the UAE gets used to its new routine, residents may feel differently by Sunday.

Why? Because they’ll be able to hit the snooze button and enjoy a well-deserved lie in… instead of trudging to work like they used to.