Press Release: The majority of the UAE public is supportive of the new UAE working week according to the analysis of social media comments posted in the hours after the changes were announced.
An evaluation of nearly 11,000 posts and comments across multiple social media platforms by UAE-based social analytics and research consultancy Anavizio showed nearly two-thirds (65%) of opinions expressed by social media users in the UAE were positive about the changed work week.
Where concerns did appear, these primarily had to do with the status of Friday as a holy day. The new guidelines will see Federal employees working half-day on Fridays until noon, with social media users expressing concerns that this disrupts religious traditions and norms.
A few also objected to the Friday prayer being set at a fixed time of 1:15 in the afternoon rather than shifting according to the solar noon.
In total, some 11% of the posts reviewed expressed concerns about the changes based on religious grounds.
A similar number of comments, 11%, raised questions about what the changes mean for the private sector and for schools and universities. Announcements were subsequently made that educational institutions will follow the new working week guidelines, although individuals working in the private sector continued to wonder what impact the changes will have on them.
Users expect the private sector to follow the government’s lead by switching to a Saturday-Sunday weekend, although some expressed fears Friday will become a full rather than a half working day for private-sector employees and the companies do not respect their staff’s work-life balance.
The changes to the UAE’s working week also drew reactions from social media users in neighbouring countries.
Just over a quarter (27%) of comments by regional users saw praise for the UAE, seeing the Federation as a role model for the Middle East. A further 3% of comments from regional users expressed hope that their countries would implement similar changes.
However, the majority of social media posts (68%) from regional users were negative toward the UAE’s new working week with accusations that the country is Westernizing too fast and forgetting about its traditions or that making Friday a working day goes against religious practice.
Comments from users beyond the Middle East were similarly divided, with some expressing support for the UAE as a modernizing force in the region, while others expressed sarcasm about the country or stated the new measures go against religious norms.