Author – The National UAE
Wam dismissed social media speculation about a move to a Saturday-Sunday weekend
There are no plans to change the Friday-Saturday weekend in the Emirates, following unsubstantiated speculation on WhatsApp and social media.
State news agency Wam said claims that a Saturday-Sunday weekend was being considered by the government were untrue.
“The news that has been spreading on social media that [the] government was planning to make some changes [to] the weekend is fake,” said Mohammed Jalal Al Raisi, executive director of Wam.
“No such news has been issued by the government and people should stop circulating such false information as it is misleading residents.”
It was unclear what prompted such rumours, but 15 years ago this month, in May 2006, the decision was taken to move the Thursday-Friday weekend. The actual change took place in September 2006.
The move brought the country one day closer to the working week in the West, at a time when the financial services sector was rapidly growing, while recognising Friday as a day of worship and time for family.
The rest of the Gulf followed, with Saudi the last to make the change in 2013.
Spreading fake news in the UAE is illegal.
Local lawyer Ludmila Yamalova, managing partner of law firm HPL Yamalova & Plewka, urged people to be cautious about what they share and forward on social media.
“Dissemination of false or wrong information is an offence under two laws, the criminal code and the cyber law,” said Ms Yamalova, who has practised law in Dubai since 2008.
“Under the penal law, the penalties could be imprisonment, a fine or deportation.
“Under the cyber law, which covers any dissemination of false news using digital means, there [are] severe monetary fines which vary from Dh500,000 to millions, and you could face imprisonment as well.”