File Photo: City of Dubai. AFP
The decision, which is to take effect next month, makes the Gulf Arab state, home to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, one of the few places in the Middle East to operate on Western hours instead of on a Sunday through Thursday working week.
Government employees would work a half-day on Friday, the traditional Muslim holy day, and then take Saturday and Sunday off, the announcement said.
The government shift likely will see private industry and schools follow suit, as they did in 2006, when the week changed from Saturday to Wednesday _ an Islamic workweek followed in some Muslim countries, such as Iran and Afghanistan.
The Emirati government hailed the decision as making it ``the first nation in the world to introduce a national working week shorter than the global five-day week'' _ a reference to Friday becoming only a half-day workday.
``The extended weekend comes as part of the UAE's government efforts to boost work-life balance and enhance social wellbeing,'' the statement added.