Expats in UAE
Image Credit: Supplied

As we swap one year for the next, we also make a transition – in the UAE, the weekends are shifting to be in alliance with international days off. The move, announced on December 7, was welcomed by both parents and children in the country, especially since in certain sectors – such as education – the change would come with a half-day on Friday.

Ahead of the big move – changes ring in on January 1 – we asked mums and kids about what they were most looking forward to in the coming weeks.

Sarah Ali
Sara Ali with daughters, Rayah (nine) and Nooreen (four).

Indian expat Sarah Ali is a realtor who works with international clients. “Earlier, with our weekends being Friday-Saturday and theirs being Saturday-Sunday, we would lose a day – there would be delayed responses, etc. This shift will make communication better.

“On a lighter note, there are many cards with messages and jokes that reference the Saturday-Sunday format. We’ll identify more with that I think.

“As someone who has been on the UAE shift weekends before, from Thursday-Friday to Friday-Saturday, back in 1998, I believe the first few weeks will be awkward but we’ll settle in soon enough.”

More family time

Kavya Khaturia says she and her children – ages 10 and 6 – are also looking forward to the change and spending more time at home. The Indian expat who teaches at a school adds, “Because they are going to have more time at home, once they are back in school their attention span will also increase and their productivity will also increase. Plus, globally also I think it’s going to be good. I’m from India, so once my family comes back from India, it’s going to be nice because otherwise they’d fly in on their weekend, which is a Saturday, and then Sunday we’d head back to work, so that’ll be a good thing.”

Kavya Khaturia
Kavya Khaturia says her children - 10 and 6 - are looking forward to the move.

UAE-based Rebecca Andrews, Career and Transition Coach, says, “The new work weekend in the UAE is a welcome change. We get to align with the rest of the world in terms of work, business, and personal priorities. The adjustment to the new norm might take some time but that will eventually settle down.”

Dubai-based Geeta Ramakrishnan, Wellness and Ontological Coach, “My first thought is more free time for the kids, hurrah. Education and knowledge are important. However, when one gets overburdened with it, and the priorities towards play and relaxing are reduced, it does take the fun balance out of growing. Parents can help channel this time to leisure, social, and community activities and interactions.

“The extended weekend gives children the opportunity to focus on value creation, to learn empathy, compassion and to learn to give back to society. While the initial reaction of parents could be, I must invest more time in my high-energy bundle of children, it’s a win-win bonding opportunity all the same.”

Fabiha Khalid with her sons
Fabiha Khalid with her sons Image Credit: Supplied

Often, people are resistant to change, but this time around, it’s a welcome drift from the usual. For Indian expat Fabiha Khalid, the move to Dubai three years ago required a shift in perspective. “We had a lot to adjust to and the weekend change was the hardest. My husband who works with a US-based company had to work on Fridays too, which meant that we had only one day to enjoy as a family. Our friends and family are spread all over the world and with different time zones and different weekends, it was harder to keep in touch. Hopefully, we can now have more family Zoom meetings with everyone.

“The extra-curricular activity calendar of the children looks a little haphazard right now. With some places shifting their Fridays schedules to Sundays and some to Saturdays. In a couple of weeks the problems will get ironed out and we’ll all run like well-oiled machines,” she tells Gulf News.

British mum-of-one Trishna also feels the move will mean more connection with family overseas: “It’ll be so much easier for us to keep in touch with friends, family and we will be able to connect with the grandparents a little easier now too.

“Also when we travel we get that extra weekend day with family rather than travelling a day earlier like we used to because the weekends are in sync,” she adds.

Melanie Penny
Melanie Penny with her daughter Image Credit: Supplied

South African expat Melanie Penny, who homeschools her child, says the shift in weekend and move in working hours will have a positive impact on her family. “As homeschoolers our weeks are pretty flexible anyway, but we are looking forward to having more time on Friday afternoons to play with my daughter’s school-going friends,” she explains.

Have a topic you'd like us to cover? Write to us at parenting@gulfnews.com