Abu Dhabi: Students across the country are eagerly anticipating the UAE’s two-and-a-half-day weekend, saying that the additional time away from school will provide opportunities for both rest and productivity.
Because the shift to a Saturday-Sunday weekend represents a change, many are waiting to see how they will settle into the new normal after their three-week winter break.
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“I am excited to have an additional half-day off [on Fridays]. My degree in interior design requires quite a bit of commitment, so I would use the time off to head to the gym, or just catch up on some rest,” Ameerah Al Zaabi, a third-year Emirati student at Zayed University, told Gulf News.
Raashid Ahamed, a Grade 11 student at the Global Indian International School Abu Dhabi, said he was quite surprised to hear the initial announcement.
“I was surprised to hear of the additional half day of leave, and I am so used to a Friday-Saturday weekend that this was quite unexpected. It will take some time to get used to the change, but I believe it will be a positive one,” said the student from India.
The lighter side
Adam Fathy, an Egyptian-Uzbek Grade 9 student at the GEMS Wellington Academy – Silicon Oasis, believes the weekend shift could have a significant impact.
“The new change, I think, it’s for the best as it’s adapting to the Western side of the world, and it is good for business. I also like the four and half days because I get less time at school!” he said.
Mahek Trivedi, a Grade 11 student at the Global Indian International School in Abu Dhabi, said: “The shift will drive us to reschedule our study routines, and may take some getting used to. But it will also be greatly beneficial for students looking forward to pursuing education in different parts of the world that follow the same weekend.”
In fact, British and Indian curriculum board exams have often coincided with the weekend in the UAE because exams are routinely scheduled for Fridays under these education systems. This would not happen once the UAE shifts to a Saturday-Sunday weekend.
The syncing with weekends in other countries could also have some lighter effects.
“We will finally be able to relate to all the Monday memes! I am also looking forward to more flexibility on Fridays, because I believe it will help me focus better on my work during the rest of the week,” said Nasrin Nazar, a fourth-year architecture student at Manipal University.
Time for extra-curriculars
Indeed, the additional time off is one of the most awaited elements among students.
“I love football, and I play three times a week at the moment. But I would use any extra time off to fit in another session. Given the kind of academic stress we undergo, any more time engaging in extra-curriculars can only boost our overall health and wellbeing, and consequently our academics,” said Ammar Hazem, 17, an Egyptian student at the British International School Al Khubairat in Abu Dhabi.
“The extended weekend will provide us more time to engage in extra-curricular activities, which will in turn have a positive impact on our learning. We, students of GEMS United Indian school, welcome this decision,” said Tavishee Patil, 16, a Grade 11 student from India at the GEMS United Indian School in Abu Dhabi.
For some, there is more than one thing to look forward to when the UAE shifts to its new weekend.
Haniya Burmawala, a Grade 8 student at Global Indian International School in Dubai, said: “Personally, I feel that the weekend change is uniting us with the rest of the world. Since I have my extended family in India, Sunday will be the day to connect with them! The extra half day will help me to indulge myself in extra-curricular activities and cultivate my hobbies so that I can excel in various fields apart from academics. All in all, the weekend change will help me to make my week more productive!”
Elline Flores also highlighted a better study-life balance as being the best effect of the change.
“I live with my parents, but I feel Like I barely get to spend any time with them. So this is what I would do with Fridays that are more flexible,” the third-year Filipina student at the Abu Dhabi University, told Gulf News.
Wait and watch
Some students did say they are waiting to see exactly what kind of impact the decision will have on their lives and routines.
“I think there are two-sides to the argument: one being ‘hey, longer weekends, shorter school day!’. But it could also impact students [differently]. Because The IB program is vigorous enough with [limited] time to finish assignments, with a half-day once a week, I feel like…we may have to rush,” said Leah Tamasker, 17, an American student at the GEMS American Academy in Abu Dhabi.
“This change will impact our daily routines as we have adjusted to the Friday-Saturday weekend. At the same time, it might also boost productivity. Since Friday will be half-day, it will help students improve school-life balance. It has sometimes been hard to manage homework at time, but now the [longer] weekend would mean more flexibility to complete my tasks properly and efficiently,” said Poojaa Niveditha, a Grade 11 student at the Global Indian International School in Abu Dhabi.
Her fellow student at the school, Shreya Rajesh, added that the change will make everything “feel new. “It will be interesting to see how it feels to attend half-day classes on Friday. But I am positive we will all settle in".
“The new weekend will help children to socialise with their grandparents and extended family members back home, as the days may coincide with their weekends too. Children would also have more time to explore and develop their favourite hobbies,” said Sumit Augustine, a PR professional and mother-of-one.
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