UAE extends weekend to start Friday afternoon and last through Sunday
Shifting a long-standing religious observance policy common among Islamic nations, weekends in the United Arab Emirates will begin Friday afternoon come next year, the UAE government announced on Twitter on Dec. 7.
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The UAE will ring in the new year by transitioning to a 4 1/2-day work week starting Jan. 1, 2022, applicable to all federal employees in the country and aimed at "longer weekends to boost productivity and improve work-life balance."
Friday and Saturday are the weekend days in most of the six countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council, which also includes Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain. This extension by the UAE breaks with much of the Middle East in observing a midday Friday prayer time in a country that is largely Muslim.
Instead, the UAE will hold Friday sermons and prayers after 1:15 p.m. throughout the year.
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As for travelers, more time on the weekend means more time to enjoy typical weekend activities, such as Friday brunch, which the UAE is known for. Time will tell as to whether you can expect to brunch on both Fridays and Saturdays.
COVID-19-related travel restrictions depend on which country you are visiting in the UAE. For example, all those entering Dubai must show results of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure, while fully vaccinated travelers headed to Abu Dhabi must show a test taken within 48 hours before departure. Read more about traveling to the UAE here.
Related: Abu Dhabi drops quarantine requirement for fully vaccinated travelers