global economy

UAE new weekend seeks to whet appetite of investors, foreigners

Reuters
UAE new weekend seeks to whet appetite of investors, foreigners

DUBAI. People walk on the Pedestrian Bridge at the Bluewaters Island in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, December 8, 2021.

Satish Kumar/Reuters

The United Arab Emirates sees the shift to a Saturday-Sunday weekend boosting its gross domestic product and helping the private sector, banks, and stock exchanges

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The United Arab Emirates expects its move to a four-and-a-half-day working week and a Saturday-Sunday weekend will boost its economy and make it a more attractive place for foreigners to live, the minister of human resources and Emiratization said on Wednesday, December 8.

The UAE announced on Tuesday, December 7, it will shift from the start of 2022 to a working week that ends on Friday afternoon, with a Saturday-Sunday weekend instead of Friday and Saturday.

The UAE over the past year has taken a series of measures to make its economy more attractive to foreign investment and talent at a time of growing economic rivalry with Saudi Arabia.

The minister, Abdulrahman Al Awar, said in an interview with Reuters the decision was based on “an extensive study and benchmark” showing the change would increase gross domestic product (GDP) and help the private sector, banks, and stock exchanges.

He did not provide projections, but said the change’s impact would be monitored by various government agencies and reported in due course.

“We believe the UAE will always, and will continue [to], be a very competitive market and a very attractive market. And we believe with this reform, we will enhance that competitiveness and that attractiveness,” he said when asked if the change would give the UAE an edge over other countries in the region.

The change will affect state entities, while private companies will be free to choose their own working week. But several executives in the finance industry said portfolio managers and brokers that operate across the region will now have to staff an extra day due to the weekend discrepancy with neighboring countries.

“I honestly don’t believe moving it from a Friday to a Sunday is going to make our GDP grow much faster,” said Mohammed Ali Yasin, chief strategy officer at Al Dhabi Capital, adding he had not seen enough data to convince him it would boost volume traded on bourses.

The change could, however, help attract foreign talent and boost domestic tourism, he said.

Some Dubai residents welcomed the news, but others elsewhere in the region were against the decision. One Riyadh resident said Friday is a special day for Muslims and should be off.

Alaa Awad, an Iraqi living in Baghdad, echoed that sentiment.

“Friday is the official holiday of all Muslims, resting, praying, being with the family. Friday is considered a holy day by all Iraqis. But other countries, like the Emirates, that is their issue.” – Rappler.com