In a departure from convention, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) stayed open on Friday, with individuals in companies, schools, and institutions conducting Namaaz (prayers) during their lunch breaks.
This is the UAE’s first working Friday, as the country transitions to Saturday-Sunday weekly offs for the first time in history. The Saturday-Sunday weekend is a Western idea that is now widely recognised across the world. However, sources indicate that several private enterprises have maintained their typical Friday-Saturday off schedule.
“Employees of the federal government sector and local governments in the UAE, with the exception of Sharjah, will work on Friday for the first time in the country’s history, for 4 and a half hours, from 7.30 a.m. until 12 noon, according to the implementation of the application of the new weekly work system announced by the UAE government and entered into force,” Gulf Today reported.
Friday has long been a day off in the UAE and other Gulf countries. “The weekly day of prayer has always been a free day in the UAE, which had traditionally maintained a Thursday-Friday weekend until 2006,” according to the news agency AFP.
“I’d rather take (Friday) off,” said Rachel King, a 22-year-old British woman who works in the hotel business and has lived in Dubai for six months, according to AFP. “That’s what we all know and love: taking a Friday off and going to places that are open and where we can do stuff.” But it’s going to be Saturday now.”