United Arab Emirates: Free Sundays in the Persian Gulf

As of: December 27, 2021 11:24 a.m.

In many Arab countries, Friday and Saturday are weekends. That is now changing in the United Arab Emirates: Sunday will be free in future. The country wants to become more attractive in this way.

By Miriam Staber, ARD-Studio Cairo

Luxury villas, tax advantages and sun all year round: the United Arab Emirates use these attributes to attract so-called expats. These are people who move to the Gulf state to work as specialists or business people. They make up a large part of the population of the Emirates.

Many of them – like a journalist for the Emirati newspaper “Khaleej Times” – welcome the fact that Sunday will be part of the weekend from the New Year: “Personally, I always find it totally annoying when I fly back to Pakistan, where Sunday is the free one Day, everything will be closed when I land there. So it will be a lot easier for me from now on. Working on Fridays won’t be a problem for me either because I’m used to it from Pakistan. I’m excited. “

Oil discoveries brought wealth to the United Arab Emirates over the past few decades. But the oil reserves are limited, which is why the Emirates are now trying to broaden their economy. The weekend postponement is one of many reforms.

More opportunities in global competition

It should bring the country more international investments and better opportunities in global competition, said Abdulrahman Abdulmannan Al Awar, Minister for Personnel Development and Emiratisation: “The government has been analyzing this carefully for months. We have compared our options and calculated the effect on our economy Analysis has shown that the weekend shift – especially with regard to our future strategy, will have a strong positive effect. “

Most government employees will now have two and a half days at the weekend: from the Islamic Friday prayer on Friday afternoon up to and including Sunday. One of the emirates, Sharjah, has even announced three full days of weekend. Private companies can decide for themselves whether they want to go along with the weekend rescheduling. Many have already announced this, they welcome the step, especially when they are working with international business partners. Sometimes there should be a long lunch break on Fridays for the Islamic Friday prayer.

Short notice

The United Arab Emirates is the first Gulf state to adapt its weekend to the west. Even if other Islamic countries like Turkey or Morocco have been practicing the “western weekend” for a long time, the move has met with some criticism in Arab countries.

Ahmed Darwish, a former Egyptian minister, regrets the postponement: “In the past we Arabs were developed. Europe was dependent on us. For example, we were leaders in scientific research and they have benefited from us. But today we are unfortunately the addicts. Your financial markets and companies are leaders. We want to sell our products, we want to cooperate with them because that benefits our economy. “

The new weekend means a big change for everyday life in the United Arab Emirates. Mainly because the announcement came at very short notice, just under four weeks in advance, says an expat on an Emirati show: “In the beginning it will be difficult to adapt, but I think we will get used to it. As with any other change It takes a while in life. But then I think we’ll enjoy the Saturday / Sunday weekend even better. “


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