Syrian expat Nidal Saleem, who lives in Sharjah, has been enjoying a three-day weekend for over a year now. And for him, all this free time is all about spending quality time with family and friends.

“My daughter works in Dubai, and I used to meet her only once every week. But since the weekend changed last year, we have been gifted two days, which we use on road trips, dinners, and leisure time," Saleem said.

The UAE has moved its Friday-Saturday weekend to Saturday-Sunday in a landmark reform that came into force on January 1, 2022. The new system was rolled out across all government entities and most firms in the private sector followed suit. Working hours for public sector employees now start at 7.30am and run until 3.30pm, Monday to Thursday, and until noon on Fridays.

In Sharjah, however, a shorter four-day workweek was implemented, with Friday, Saturday, and Sunday forming the new weekend.

Retired Brig Ali Al Sayed Ibrahim said that when it comes to work and productivity, the change didn't have much of an impact — "but for family time, it surely has surged".

“Considering citizen’s happiness, it must have increased. Spending time with your loved ones significantly improves their work-life balance,” said Al Sayed.

Besides the impact on quality time with loved ones, businesses also got a boost. Saleem, who runs an auto pump business in Sharjah, said the weekend shift allowed him to align transactions and operations with international standards.

“Business has been doing great. On Fridays, I come to the store to do the weekly accounts and pray at the masjid, which is right next to my business establishment,” he said.

For Abdul Majid Muallimi, a trader who has been operating in the Old Souk Deira for the last 45 years, the change took some getting used to but everything eventually fell into place.

“It was a bit difficult in the beginning. However, as time passed, we got used to it, which turned out to be better for us as well as our clients,” he said.

“I start my day after Friday prayers. As many of our clients are Emiratis, they prefer shopping on Friday evenings, and the expats are seen in the market on Saturday and Sunday."


Copyright © 2022 Khaleej Times. All Rights Reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (