Around the Clock: Working Hours in the UAE
May 6th, 2013, Courtney Parker

Around the Clock: Working Hours in the UAE

The UAE has established itself as an unparalleled regional business hub, supported by a growing economy, influx of entrepreneurship and stability. Only last month, the YouGov Travel Oracle reported the UAE as the most popular destination for business travel in the region. While economic growth is welcomed in the region, it has translated to longer working hours for many. Does living in the region’s business hub mean our personal lives are taking a back seat to our professional lives? Perhaps more importantly, are we happy about how many hours we spend working? A YouGov survey of 907 employed UAE residents set out to answer these questions.

In a typical working day, the largest proportion of those interviewed (39 percent) said they start work between 8am and 8.59am. One-quarter (26 percent) start earlier than this (between 6am and 7.59am), and 1 in 5 (20 percent) start between 9am and 9.59am (the remaining 15 percent starts work any time after 10am but before 6am).

Typically, respondents were more fractionalized in terms of what time they finished their working day. Twenty-one percent of those interviewed finish work between 1pm and 4.59pm, another 1 in 5 (20 percent) finish between 5pm and 5.59pm (with only 5 percent finishing at exactly 5.30pm). Nineteen percent finish sometime between 6pm and 6.59pm, 14 percent finish between 7pm and 8.59pm, 1 in 15 (7 percent) finish between 9pm and midnight and the remainder (19 percent) finishes sometime after midnight.

Looking specifically at those who leave at 5:30pm, among those interviewed, marginally more respondents living in Dubai finish work at exactly 5.30pm (6 percent) compared to those living in Abu Dhabi (4 percent). Instead, respondents in Abu Dhabi more commonly finish work between 5pm and 5.29pm (18 percent vs. 13 percent of Dubai workers finishing at this time). Interestingly, more than 2 in 5 of those living in Abu Dhabi (43 percent) finish work sometime between 3pm and 5.29pm, while less than a quarter of respondents living in Dubai finish in this time range (23 percent).

In terms of age, the largest percent of those interviewed aged 25 to 29 finish work between 5pm and 5.29pm (12 percent), while older respondents most frequently finish work between 6pm and 6.29pm (20 percent of those 30 to 34, 17 percent of those 35 to 39 and 17 percent of those 40+).

Surprisingly, 85 percent of those interviewed work longer than their contracted hours and almost half (47 percent) work past their contracted hours five or more days a week. In terms of gender, males were significantly more likely to work longer than their contracted hours (86 percent work longer at least once a week vs. 78 percent of women). As were those living in Dubai (87 percent work longer at least once a week vs. 82 percent of workers living in Abu Dhabi). Furthermore, of those who work longer than their contracted hours, only 1 in 5 (22 percent) get paid overtime.

Despite long working hours and a lack of compensation for overtime, most UAE residents (60 percent) agree they are happy with their typical working hours. Suggesting, to an extent, the UAE residents interviewed are willing to prioritize their working life, at least for the time being.

The ‘working hours’ survey was conducted using the YouGov Online Panel and all questionnaires were completed between the 7th and 14th April 2013. The results are based on a total sample of 907 respondents; 657 males, 250 females and Emirate of residence was split as follows; 410 Dubai residents, 251 Abu Dhabi residents, 243 Northern Emirate residents. The YouGov panel is broadly representative of the online populations within the region.