The United Arab Emirates has announced January 1 as a New Year holiday for the public sector, giving employees of all ministries and federal entities a three-day weekend.
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“The New Year holiday for all ministries and federal entities has been announced as Saturday, [January 1, 2022], with official duty to resume on Monday, [January 3]” the Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported on Sunday.
“The announcement was made Sunday in a circular issued by the Federal Authority for Government Human Resources and is based on the new weekday work system in the federal government sector.”
Earlier this month, the UAE announced it will shift to a working week of four and half days with a Saturday-Sunday weekend from the start of 2021 to better align its economy with global markets, but private companies will be free to choose their own working week.
The oil-producing Gulf state, the region's commercial, trade and tourism hub, currently has a Friday-Saturday weekend. From January 1, however, the weekend will start on Friday afternoon, including for schools, a government circular said.
“Each company, depending on the sector they operate in and what suits and serves their business best, can choose the weekend they decide for their employees,” Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation Abdulrahman al-Awar told Reuters.
The government also said the longer weekend would improve employees' work-life balance.
The UAE said the move would “ensure smooth financial, trade and economic transactions with countries that follow a Saturday-Sunday weekend, facilitating stronger international business links and opportunities” for UAE-based and multinational firms.
The change will impact state entities like the central bank, which would communicate details about the new working hours to commercial banks, said al-Awar, adding that UAE stock exchanges would also be more integrated with global markets.
“This change will enhance the integration of the banking sector in the UAE with the banking community internationally... it will eliminate the gap that existed in the past,” he said.