Mosques appeared busy as worshippers carrying prayer mats arrived as usual
Employees and schoolchildren juggled work and studies with weekly Muslim prayers on the first ever working Friday in the United Arab Emirates as the Gulf country formally switched to a Saturday-Sunday weekend.
Some grumbled at the change and businesses were split, with many moving to the Western-style weekend but other private firms sticking with Fridays and Saturdays, as in other Gulf states.
Until now, the weekly day of prayer was always a free day in the UAE, which had previously observed a Thursday-Friday weekend until 2006.
However, mosques appeared busy as worshippers carrying prayer mats arrived as usual, before many of them later headed back to the office.
The UAE made the surprise announcement of the weekend switch for the public sector in December as it grapples with rising competition in international business from other Gulf countries, particularly Saudi Arabia.
Government bodies and schools will operate four-and-a-half-days per week, closing at 12 pm on Fridays for a fixed prayer time of 1:15 pm, whereas the Muslim prayer schedule usually depends on the position of the sun.