After two-month summer break, UAE schools welcome back students
Students across the UAE ended their first Monday-to-Friday school week today. Picture for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News Archives

Abu Dhabi: Across the UAE, students concluded what was the first Monday-to-Friday week at school, and started their weekend by 12pm today.

The 12pm end to the school day today — which is part of the UAE’s new four-and-a-half-day working week — has been roundly welcomed by schoolgoing children, with most having adjusted their regular weekend activities for the new Saturday-Sunday weekend.

Eje Idemudia

“My first encounter with the Monday-Friday workweek was standard up until Thursday when I almost started getting excited for the new weekend. Then I remembered that I had to set my alarm for school on Friday! Nevertheless, the Friday classes flew by and my teachers and classmates were all in a very good mood about the shorter school day. I intend to use the additional time on Fridays to catch up on school work and start studying for my final exams, and then spend the extra time on weekends with my family and friends. There is so much potential in those three extra hours on Fridays,” said Eje Idemudia, a Grade 12 student at GEMS American Academy — Abu Dhabi.

More free time

Mohamed Alrafi Al Ahmadi

Mohamed Alrafi Al Ahmadi, Year 13 student at GEMS Al Barsha National School, said he hadn’t really had to adjust to the new school week. “I think I [have adapted] well to the new working week in the UAE as I don’t see the week as Monday to Friday. I see it as days 1 to 5 of being in school. I am still working hard to study and focus on my school work. We are finishing one hour earlier on Friday, and I will benefit from this additional time to spend with family and friends, so that’s good. We now have extra time to hang out with friends on Sundays and a bit more time to revise and study as well,” he said.

Yamile, a Grade 12 student from Mexico at the Nibras International School in Dubai, was most excited at being able to keep in touch with friends and family back home. “After having lived the new experience in the UAE [for a while], I would say [the new school week] was so different. I do enjoy it more because I am able to contact my family and friends in Mexico more easily because of the new week format. Otherwise, I found the week to be very similar. I also like having half a day [of school on Friday] because we have more time to pay attention to extra-academic/co-curricular activities as well. I will use this time to rest at home while listening to music, watching a movie, or reading a book,” he said.

Slightly unusual


For some, the Monday-Friday week seemed just ever so slightly strange. “I feel it’s a bit strange, and Monday still feels like Sunday. Friday feels like a normal day now and it doesn’t have the energy of a weekend. But I’m glad it’s a half-day at school. I can spend time with my family. Otherwise, I’ll just stay home to finish some schoolwork or do some cooking. I feel it’s weird to study on a Friday. But I’m happy it’s a shorter day, which makes up for it. I plan to use the additional time on a Friday with my family and siblings and cousins, probably just having little conversations with them. I’m not sure if we’re changing anything about our weekend plans, maybe we will. But for now, we will still do our Friday traditions that revolve around family time,” said Rayan, an Emirati student in Year 8 at Reach British School.

Switching days


Most students explained that they had switched their regular weekend plans to either Saturday or Sunday, which make up the new weekend in the UAE. “I don’t think we will change our usual weekend plans. Usually, we visit our grandparents or relax at home,” said Sara, an Emirati Year 8 student at Reach British School in Abu Dhabi.

“My Saturday-Sunday weekend plans aren’t really any different than before. Most of the events I engage in outside school have adjusted to the new workweek by simply shifting by one day. For example, before, my family and I attended church on Fridays. Now that has been moved to Saturday,” Idemudia added.

Alexandros Pagkartis

Alexandros Pagkartis, Grade 4 student at GEMS World Academy — Abu Dhabi, also welcomed the changed weekend. “Although it has been a little bit of a change for me to start from Mondays, I am happy that the weekend has shifted one day later and that I have the last day as a half day. I will have more time to spend with my family and friends and enjoy some break time as well. This weekend, I am planning to spend some time playing with my friends and I am also really looking forward to going to the Yas Skatepark. I am also really excited to visit Expo 2020 Dubai for the fourth time,” he said.

Unique takeaways

Yehia, a Grade 11 student from Egypt at the Nibras International School, said the new weekend “feels more modern” somehow. “It will take some time getting used to it. I feel happy about it though because it gives me a chance to have our work week like other developed countries, without impacting our Friday prayer. The only unusual thing is having to wake up early on Friday mornings. Still, having a shorter day gives us more time to rest. I plan to do my Friday prayer and then go home, complete some assignments and use the rest of my day to take a break or rest,” he explained.


For Keona, a Year 6 student at The Aquila School in Dubai, the new weekend brings back memories of home. “My first week at school with the new Monday-Friday timetable reminds me of my previous school in Scotland! I love that Friday is a shorter day because now I can fill the time with things I enjoy, such as reading. The weekends won’t feel much different either, except I will go dancing on a Sunday instead of a Saturday,” she said.


Aditya, a Year 6 Indian student at the same school, said he had faced some confusion with the first few days of the week. “When I had my first encounter of beginning the week on a Monday, the day felt exactly the same as a Sunday as our lesson timetable has stayed the same! But I did keep getting confused if it was Monday or Sunday! [I must say] that the shorter day on Friday is exciting because I can spend time doing things that I like! I also attend additional classes on Sundays, and because of them, my weekends will be a bit different!” he said.

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Improve wellbeing

Radhika Sapdhare

Radhika Sapdhare, a first grader at the Global Indian International School in Abu Dhabi, said the additional time away from school will be beneficial. “I feel the shorter week will improve everyone’s wellbeing. We will get to spend more time with our parents and siblings,” she said.

Radhika Sapdhare, a first grader at the Global Indian International School in Abu Dhabi, said the additional time away from school will be beneficial. “I feel the shorter week will improve everyone’s wellbeing. We will get to spend more time with our parents and siblings,” she said.