How the three-day weekend has changed life in Sharjah

Parents, pupils and traders reveal ways they are using their extra spare time

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Sharjah rang in the changes on January 1 by introducing a four-day working week.

The emirate's public sector and schools switched to the shorter week, granting people a long weekend all-year round.

The move came after the UAE federal government adopted a Saturday-Sunday weekend, with half a day of work on Fridays.

Almost one month on, workers, parents, pupils and businesses are coming to grips with an altered landscape.

But what does the extra day mean for the people living and working in Sharjah? For some, a three-day weekend offers more time to relax and enjoy time with family.

It also provides an additional day of weekend trade for businesses keen to serve customers who are now enjoying more leisure time.

The National spoke to people in Sharjah, to find out how they are adjusting to a new way of life.

A teacher and mother

Jumana Yousef, 35, from Jordan, is among those reaping the benefits of more free hours.

Being a teacher, she can now start the weekend on Friday and have more quality time with her family.

“I used to spend the first day of the weekend revising and teaching the kids and the second cleaning the house,” she said.

“I still clean and teach during weekend but at least now I have an extra day to relax and also spend time with my family.”

A recipe for success

Friday's newfound weekend status has been a boost for businesses eager to cater for extra customers.

“There has been an increase in sales as the number of customers has multiplied,” said Roshan Nagarkoti, assistant manager of Nando’s in Sharjah’s Al Qasba district.

“Running a restaurant, I’m certainly happy about this decision so are all staff members.

“With more business comes more money and staff are getting more tips, which makes everyone happy.”

Soak in the culture

A four-day working week means extra working hours for one of the emirate's top attractions.

Sharjah Aquarium will open every day to allow those with more time on their hands to pay a visit.

Emirati curator Rashid Al Shamsi will be on call seven days a week in case he is needed, but typically will enjoy a full three-day weekend.

“I don’t mind being on call because I have more time to do the things I wasn’t able to before,” he said.

“Now I can see friends; the chances of seeing them before were very limited.

"I get to go to the sea, which is something I truly enjoy but didn’t have the time for.”

Mr Al Shamsi said he has become more positive and his productivity has increased since the weekend was extended.

Joy for pupils

Pupils are relishing the chance to spend more time with friends.

Jordanian Barjas Qubailat, a seventh year learner at Pace International School in the emirate, would often miss out on sleep during the traditional two-day break from class to extend his social time.

“Playing with my friends came on the expense of my sleeping hours before this change,” said the 13-year-old.

“I had to divide the two days of weekend between studying, playing and sleeping and it wasn’t enough so I gave up few hours of sleep.”

Fellow pupil Mira Younis, also from Jordan, is in favour of the new-look week.

“It certainly gives me more time to spend having fun or practice my hobbies,” said the ninth year pupil at Rosary Private School.

She spent her first long weekend catching up with her cousins before marking a date in their diary with friends at Al Majaz waterfront the following weekend.

Updated: January 30, 2022, 11:01 AM