Cricket fans stop work and have a ball

Thousands of workers take the day off to see India beat Pakistan.

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While shouts of joy and despair could be heard from coffee shops all over the country, it was the eerie sound of silence that was heard from offices and construction sites as employees either left work early or did not come in at all so they could watch India beat arch-rivals Pakistan in the semi-final of the World Cup.

The UAE is home to about 2.6million Indians and Pakistanis, so many businesses were brought to a standstill and travellers struggled to find a taxi while the game, which India won by 29 runs, was being played.

Outdoor screens for thousands of labourers on Yas Island were erected by Aldar Properties, an example followed by Dutco Balfour Beatty, the construction contractor.

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Many of those cricket-mad Indian and Pakistanis who were not afforded such a concession by their companies took the day off anyway.

At the Indian bank Kotak Mahindra's Dubai operations, about 20 employees watched the first part of the match in the office before rushing to find a restaurant to see the second innings, said director of the bank, Somer Massey.

The match, the first to be held between the teams on Indian soil since the Mumbai bombings in 2008, was a particular disappointment for one VIP. The Pakistani prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani declared a half-day holiday at all government offices before flying to Mohali to watch the match with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh .

Fortunately for businesses, both local and in India, the final against Sri Lanka is being played in Mumbai on Saturday - so most workers can take a legitimate day off.