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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 May 2006, 15:54 GMT 16:54 UK
Emirates changes days of weekend
Dubai seafront
The UAE is looking beyond Gulf shores for its future wealth
The United Arab Emirates says it will move its official weekend - a decision aimed at helping to improve business contacts with Western states.

The change from a Thursday-Friday weekend to a Friday-Saturday one will come into force in September.

The current weekend severely limits the amount of business hours that companies share with their European counterparts.

The move is expected to be widely welcomed, although it will put the UAE out of step with Gulf neighbours.

It is not known why the Emirates adopted a Thursday-Friday weekend a decade ago, but BBC Gulf correspondent Julia Wheeler says speculation centred on pressure from its powerful Saudi neighbour to standardise Gulf countries' weekends.

However, since then, any company dealing with Europe has only three half- days of mutual office hours.

Many firms in the UAE are owned by the ruling families of the seven Emirates, and our correspondent says it is clear that if they want compete on a global scale - beyond the six-nation Gulf Co-operation Council borders - they must be more accessible during the week.

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