December 10, 2021 - 6:35 am

 UAE Adopts 4.5 Day Work Week 

The United Arab Emirates has introduced a four-and-a-half day work, becoming the first in the world to have a national work week that's shorter than the global five-day week. It looks to bring itself more in line with the rest of the world. The UAE's new work has been instituted to serve two purposes. The first is aligning the country with nations that follow a Saturday/Sunday weekend and strengthening economic links with them. But it is the second one that has a more universal resonance - boosting workers productivity and improve work-life balance. It is not a co-incidence that the UAE's move should come even as countries like the US and the UK reel under what is called The great resignation, with record numbers of people quitting their jobs.

                       The UAE - which has been the Middle East's commercial capital for more than a decade & has been facing  growing regional competition from Saudi Arabia - is seeking to reposition itself as a global hub for business. Throughout the pandemic, the UAE has sped up changes aimed at attracting foreign talent as well as strengthening trade ties between the Middle East, especially in Asia and Africa. The new arrangement is another bold step for UAE which last year bucked decades of Arab consensus by normalising relations unlocking hundreds of millions of dollars in deals.

                       Contrary to what those who oppose shorter working hours fear, the promise of assured rest only makes people more productive, with the proper amount of leisure time recharging them enough to work with greater motivation. Some critics state that starting by the public sector is a tactical mistake. It will exacerbate the narrative of hard working private sector versus lazy bureaucrats. This is why the Utah 2011 four-day week failed. It should be implemented to the whole economy, giving 4/6 years for the adjustment.

                       The changed week was generally welcomed on social media, where the subject was trending and the official announcements were widely retweeted. As time frees up for leisure activities, related sectors, such as travel, sports and entertainment see growth. The UAE has already seen the wisdom of this. The rest of the world should not lag behind.