Employees and schoolchildren juggled work and research with weekly Muslim prayers on the primary ever working Friday within the United Arab Emirates because the Gulf nation formally switched to a Saturday-Sunday weekend.
Some grumbled on the change and companies have been cut up, with many shifting to the Western-style weekend however different personal corporations sticking with Fridays and Saturdays, as in different Gulf states.
The weekly day of prayer has at all times been a free day within the UAE, which had beforehand noticed a Thursday-Friday weekend till 2006.
However, mosques appeared busy as worshippers carrying prayer mats arrived as normal, earlier than a lot of them later headed again to the workplace.
“I’d rather take (Friday) off,” mentioned 22-year-old Briton Rachel King, who works within the hospitality business and has been living in Dubai for six months.
“That is what we all know and love, having a Friday off and going to certain places that are open and we could do things. But now it is going to be Saturday.”
The UAE made the shock announcement of the weekend change for the general public sector in December because it grapples with rising competitors in worldwide enterprise from different Gulf nations, notably Saudi Arabia.
Government our bodies and colleges will function four-and-a-half-days per week, closing at 12 pm on Fridays for a hard and fast prayer time of 1:15 pm, whereas the Muslim prayer schedule often relies on the place of the solar.
Out of 195 companies polled by human assets consultancy Mercer, solely 23 p.c have been getting ready to observe the four-and-a-half-day week, however greater than half would change to Saturday-Sunday weekends.
“Luckily I have the same days off as my kids, but that’s not the case for my husband,” mentioned Fati, who works in a world distribution firm, asking to not give her full identify.
“He works for a multinational that hasn’t changed its schedule for the moment. I hope they will do it quickly, otherwise our family life will be ruined.”
Nearly a 3rd of corporations are nervous in regards to the influence of being out of sync with different nations within the area, the Mercer ballot discovered.
“We work a lot with Egypt and Saudi Arabia,” mentioned Rana, an worker of an occasions firm who mentioned a few of her groups must work on Sundays.
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Dubai’s monetary district was unusually quiet on Friday with giant numbers working remotely, particularly at a time of rising Covid ranges when many youngsters are additionally doing on-line education.
“Today is the first working Friday, it feels a bit weird,” mentioned Ahmad Bilbisi, 34, a banking worker.
“It makes sense to me, at least for the banking industry. We are now working on the same day as everyone else in the world.”
The new association was a serious speaking level on social media, with one Twitter consumer complaining “it just feels so wrong”.
“My body and mind have fully acclimatised to having Fridays off. I think today is going to a long hard struggle,” the tweet reads.
Sharjah, an emirate neighbouring Dubai, has discovered a easy resolution: mandating Friday, Saturday and Sunday as a three-day weekend.