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Local Service Partners

Local Service Partners are independent EAPs with which WPO has established strategic relationships for the delivery of global EAP services in alignment with the WPO models, processes and quality standards.

  • 17 April 2024
  • 1 month

Addressing the 4-Day Working Week

Maya Shukri

EAP Counsellor

As mental health awareness continues to rise in the world, it must be considered in every aspect of our daily lives, including employment. One way to improve employees’ mental health, work-life balance and productivity is through the practice of a 4-day working week. In 2023, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the emirate of Sharjah announced the implementation of a 4-day working week for all government employees. Dubai also moved towards a 4-and-a-half-day working week for such employees (Desk, 2023). This made the UAE the first country in the Middle East – and one of the first in the world – to legally enforce a 4-day working week (Drapkin, 2024). The effects of these changes on employee wellbeing have been shown to be mostly positive, with improvement to mental health, work-life balance and productivity. What is the significance of these effects in the UAE?

The move towards a 4-day working week was implemented in 2023, specifically after the announcement of changing weekends from Friday through Saturday to Saturday through Sunday in 2022 (Desk, 2023). These changes lead to a conversation around working during Fridays, which is the holy day for Muslims. Islam is the UAE’s official religion and is a significant part of its demographics (GMI Blogger, 2022). The UAE is a very diverse country, with 88 per cent of its population being expatriates (GMI Blogger, 2022). The implementation of a 3-day weekend aligns with its diversity, as it accommodates the lifestyles of more cultural and religious groups.

Another aspect to consider is the UAE’s primary culture. While the country is highly diverse, most of UAE’s expatriates and nationals come from collectivistic cultures. These cultures highly value the collective over the individual, with a strong emphasis on family, friends and society as a whole unit operating together (Al-Krenawi et al., 2004). As a result, individuals from collectivistic cultures greatly value spending time with their family and community and participating in social events. The introduction of the 4-day working week would allow them to have more time for their personal life, increasing their connection to their social circles. When an individual feels more connected to people outside of work, their workplace is positively impacted as they are grateful to their employers for considering their social life.

A year after implementing the 4-day working week in Sharjah, studies have shown that this change yielded positive results. More specifically, it has shown an 88 per cent increase in productivity and a 90 per cent rise in job satisfaction (Shafique & Al Haddi, 2022). The results have demonstrated that 87 per cent of employees are willing to keep their current work schedule for the rest of the year (Shafique & Al Haddi, 2022). The majority of employees have agreed that employee morale has increased, and work-life balance has improved based with this new working week structure (Shafique & Al Haddi, 2022). In addition, 87 per cent of employees have stated that there has been no negative impact on their personal work productivity, and 74 per cent of employees have agreed there has been no negative impact on team productivity due to the weekend change (Shafique & Al Haddi, 2022).

I decided to explore this topic personally as well, as my mother and aunt both work in Sharjah and are currently on a 4-day working week schedule. I decided to question them about how they are finding the change and how it has impacted both their personal and professional lives. When I asked them about how their work life has changed, they explained that it was difficult at first, since they had to perform their previous duties in 4 days instead of 5. However, after some time, they learned to adapt to it and found ways to manage their days. They acknowledged that their workdays are busier now, but they feel more motivated knowing that the weekend is closer. The additional day off during the week also energizes them. They explained that their personal lives have changed for the better, as they have more time to spend with their family and friends, as well as more time for household tasks, doctor appointments and other day-to-day activities. Both my mother and aunt agreed that they like the 4-day working week, and they wish to keep it.

In conclusion, the transition towards a 4-day working week is gaining momentum in the Middle East. This change is driven by a desire to enhance employee well-being by improving work-life balance, promoting diversity and strengthening social connections. While challenges could exist in adapting to the new work schedule, the potential benefits for individuals, businesses and society make it a concept worth exploring further. This movement is still in its infancy, but, due to its potential, it is important to further examine results of a 4-day working week in order to decide if it is a right fit for the Middle East.

Workplace Options helps employees balance their work, family, and personal needs to become healthier, happier, and more productive, both personally and professionally. The company’s world-class employee support, effectiveness, and wellbeing services provide information, resources, referrals, and consultation on a variety of issues ranging from dependent care and stress management to clinical services and wellness programs. Contact us to learn more. 

This content is intended for general information only. It does not provide specific direction, advice, or recommendations. You may wish to contact an appropriate professional for questions concerning your particular situation.


Desk, W. (2023a, February 22). World’s first 4-day workweek in UAE: 8 other countries where shorter office hours are being trialled. Khaleej Times.

Drapkin, Aaron. (2024, January 3). Countries that have four-day work weeks in 2024.

GMI Blogger. (2022, Jan 1). UAE Population 2022. GMI

l-Krenawi, A., Graham, J. R., Dean, Y. Z., & Eltaiba, N. (2004). Cross-national study of attitudes towards seeking professional help: Jordan, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Arabs in Israel. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 50(2), 102-114.

Shafique, F. &, Al Haddi, M. (2022) Enhancing Employee Morale by Providing Felxible Workweek Options: A Success Story in Sharjah. ADIPEC, doi:

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