Sunday off: UAE changes weekend to align with West

“Once again, the UAE presents itself as a pioneering country that looks to the future with courage and flexibility,” said Nabil al-Qadi, ...


“Once again, the UAE presents itself as a pioneering country that looks to the future with courage and flexibility,” said Nabil al-Qadi, president of Khawarizmi International College, a private university in Abu Dhabi, the Emirati capital. “I see no conflict between the ruling and religion or the fact that Friday is a holy day.”

As the UAE has become more socially liberal, politics is a very different matter. The country is a federation of seven monarchies, where dissenting voices are rarely heard or tolerated.

Top-down decision-making gives ruling sheikhs unchallenged control over politics, which can lead to sharp turns that surprise residents of the UAE and the rest of the region. A historic moment came in September 2020 when the emirates announced they would normalize their relations with Israel, a step that most other Arab countries – and all other Gulf states – opposed, or at least were. reluctant to take.

“The Emirates have always had their own vision and their own path,” said Abdullah Baabood, an Omani scholar and former director of the Gulf Research Center in Cambridge, mainly highlighting his decision and the speed with which he continued to normalize relations with Israel. . “And a lot of these questions are somewhat confusing for the average Arab citizen.”

But for many living in the UAE, Tuesday’s announcement presented another tantalizing prospect. At a time when the pandemic has sparked new conversations about flexible work styles and four-day work weeks, changing the weekend and making Friday a half-day appears to offer a more manageable schedule and a longer break. .

“I love it because I work with my overseas offices in Europe and now we’re aligned,” said Yasmeen Seif, US-Egyptian communications director for a luxury fashion company. She moved to Dubai, the largest city in the Emirates, 13 years ago, and found a place that embraced elements of both sides of her identity – a place that was Arab and that had appeal and a good marketing, she added.

“All I hear about now is what we’re going to do with Friday brunch,” she said.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Sunday off: UAE changes weekend to align with West
Sunday off: UAE changes weekend to align with West
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