Dubai to remove Jumu’ah – Islamic holy day Friday – from the weekend in latest reforms away from Islam

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Dubai social reforms – Monday to Friday working week to remove Friday (Jumu’ah) from the weekend


FACT BOX: The Islamic weekend is Friday and Saturday with the working week starting on Sunday and ending on Thursday. 

The UAE, and Dubai in particular has come under a lot of scrutiny recently for social reforms that are intended to bring it more inline with the West for “global business” integration.

Whilst there is no doubt that the economic argument behind this has merit and a lot of that wealth is passed on to the citizens, the reforms come at a cost. The perceived erosion of native traditions and culture. The erosion of some Islamic practises in particular are raising a few eyebrows amongst neighbouring countries.

As the world moves away from oil dependancy, the Middle-East has to pivot its economy. Green energy, technologies and tourism have rushed to fill the gap. As the move away from oil dependency accelerates so does the pressure on the Gulf nations to join other mainstream global economic sectors.

A shift to a Monday to Friday working week is being considered by the United Arab Emirates as a whole to bring it into line with the global economy. It is understood that Dubai in particular is pushing for the reform, although the reform must be agreed by and implemented by the UAE as a whole.

In the past year reforms in the multi-emirate Gulf state have included:

The decriminalisation of alcohol.

The decriminalisation and cohabitation outside of marriage.

Normalisation of diplomatic, political, trade and travel relations with Israel.

Supply of Kosher and other meats. 

Allowing restaurants to stay open during the month long fast of Ramadan (Dubai only). 

The reforms are aimed at attracting global tourism from a wide range of religious and cultural backgrounds, as well as attracting migrant workers, investors and most importantly spenders. The latest proposal of the Monday to Friday working week is hoped to attract more international trade with non-muslim nations.

Whilst there have been some minor protests in other muslim countries, the reforms have largely been enacted without complaint on the global or domestic stage.

Not all countries in the Middle-East operate with Islamic principles at the core of political and legislative structures. Turkey for example where 99% of the population are muslim, is actually a secular state, where religion and the state have been separated. The US operates in a similar fashion. Whilst the US is 65% christian the state is secular with non-religious holidays such as thanks-giving and Independence Day being the largest annual festivals.

It is unlikely that the UAE or Dubai would ever consider becoming a secular state. However the recent social reforms indicate a wish to open up to the world and assimilate with the global markets in a way never seen before from a Middle Eastern nation since the reforms of the Ottoman’s Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.


© 2021 Al-Sahawat Times, Printed and Distributed by IPMG, an Al-Said Group entity. 

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About the Author

Layla El Khalifa
BA in Photojournalism and Masters in Communication Journalism