A camel train at sunset with Burj Khalifa and downtown dubai in background

Weekend Days in Dubai; Welcome to the New 4.5-day Work Week!

by Dubai Travel Planner

Important Government announcement on 7 December 2021; from 1 January 2022, the UAE Federal Government will move to a 4.5-day working week, running from Monday to Friday prayer time.

Schools, Dubai Government agencies, and many local businesses have said they will also look to follow the new 4.5-day working week.

Private sector firms can decide if they follow suit, as long as they abide by labour laws and workers work no more than 48 hours a week with a minimum of one day off.

This is a huge change for a country that has been working on a 5-day public sector work week, Sunday to Thursday, since 2006.

The history of weekends in Dubai

This is not the first time the weekend has changed in Dubai!

From the country’s formation in 1971 to 1999, the UAE had a 6-day working week, with only Fridays granted as a Government day off. Thursday was added as a weekend in 1999 to give a two-day public sector weekend.

Until 2006, the 2-weekend was observed on Thursday and Friday in the UAE. As you can imagine, in an increasingly global market, this caused issues with a lack of overlap in business hours with global markets.

The weekend was therefore changed to Friday and Saturday from 1 September 2006; the UAE was among the first of the Gulf countries to make this change. Others, such as Saudi Arabia, followed suit some eight years later, in 2013.

The UAE Government Media office explained that the decision to change the weekend to 2.5 days “will better align the Emirates with global markets, reflecting the country’s strategic status on the global economic map”. The announcement also aims to “boost productivity and improve work-life balance”.

The decision to change the weekend will not change the scheduled public holidays for the UAE in 2022.

Will I get the day off now on Saturday/Sunday?

For those working in Dubai, it depends on what sort of work you do. Many manual labour and domestic workers in Dubai traditionally only get one day off a week – usually, a Friday.

The move has caused conjecture on what the labourer “day off” is; there is no uniform answer for this across sectors. Some are sticking with Friday; others are giving workers either Saturday or Sunday as their “off”, with a break for prayer time if required on a Friday.

Those working for Government departments or schools will move to the 4.5-day week effective from Sunday, 2 January 2022 (with 1 January already being a public holiday).

Dhuhr Prayer times in the UAE have been moved to 1.15 PM on a Friday to accommodate the change in business hours.

Why does the weekend in Dubai matter?

Many Dubai attractions and restaurants are exceptionally busier on weekends than on weekdays. Tourists will notice the biggest change that Friday AND Saturday nights will now be the busiest at venues across the city.

Most tourist attractions will now likely adjust their opening hours to reflect the new work week.

Are the weekends busier in Dubai?

Absolutely, compared to the rest of the week, Thursday night through to Saturday historically are much busier at tourist attractions, hotels and restaurants.

As a tourist, you may prefer to hit many attractions midweek to avoid the crowds, though, of course, the weekends can also be when the action happens!

Be careful when planning your tour itinerary of Dubai to keep the new weekend days in mind. Although the ruling was brought in at a Federal Government level, all the Emirates have followed suit (in fact, Sharjah has moved to a 4-day week!)

School Days in Dubai

In line with the change in the Government work week, KHDA announced that schools in Dubai will follow the Government in implementing a 4.5-day week, Monday to Friday morning.

For more interesting facts about Dubai, you may also like to check out:

JBR Jumeirah Beach Residence in Dubai, an aeriel view over The Beach

Before you go… More important things you should know when planning a trip to Dubai


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