“The United Arab Emirates are the first nation in the world to introduce a national work week of less than the usual five-day week,” the official news agency reported. The Emirates will thus become the first Gulf state with a weekend on Saturday and Sunday – the extended weekend should then begin on Friday at noon so that the Friday prayer, which is important for the Muslims, can be perceived.
The new working hours will be mandatory for government institutions from January and are intended to improve the balance between work and private life as well as the economic competitiveness of the country. A study by the World Health Organization came to the conclusion in May that weekly working hours of 55 hours or more are associated with a significantly higher risk of heart attacks and strokes. According to the study, the number of deaths from heart disease associated with long hours rose by 42 percent between 2000 and 2016. In western countries, a week of 35 to 40 hours is the norm, in Southeast Asia and the western Pacific region it is often significantly higher, according to the study.