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UAE to switch to Saturday-Sunday weekend from next year

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UAE announced on Tuesday that it will transition to a four-and-a half-day working week, with Friday afternoon, Saturday, and Sunday forming the new weekend. All Federal government departments will move to the new weekend from January 1, 2022.

The authorities added that with this move, the UAE has become the first nation in the world to introduce a national working week shorter than the global five-day week.

The working week will start on Monday and end by Friday afternoon. The working hours for federal employees are set to be from 7.30am to 3.30pm, with 8.5 working hours per day. On Friday, employees will work for 4.5 hours.

On Fridays, employees will also be allowed to choose flexible work or work-from-home options. The longer weekend is aimed at boosting productivity and improving work-life balance.

The announcement also said that Friday sermons and prayers would be held after 1.15pm across the UAE all year long.

From an economic perspective, the new working week is set to better align the country with global markets, reflecting the country’s strategic status on the global economic map. It will ensure smooth financial, trade and economic transactions with countries that follow a Saturday/Sunday weekend, facilitating stronger international business links and opportunities for thousands of UAE-based and multinational companies.

The new working week will also bring the UAE’s financial sector into closer alignment with global real-time trading and communications-based transactions such as those driving global stock markets, banks and financial institutions. The move is expected to boost not only trading opportunities but also add to the flexible, secure, and enjoyable lifestyle the UAE offers its citizens and residents.

The Federal Authority for Government Human Resources proposed the new workweek following comprehensive benchmarking and feasibility studies reflecting potential impacts of the move on the economy, on social and family ties and on the overall wellbeing of people in the UAE.

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Bitcoin rises 2.1% to reach $50,000

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Bitcoin rose on Sunday to reclaim levels above $50,000.

The world’s biggest and best-known cryptocurrency gained 2.11% to $50,445.34 at 1803 GMT on Sunday, adding $1,044.80 to its previous close.

Bitcoin is up 81.9% from the year’s low of $27,734 on Jan. 4

Ether , the coin linked to the ethereum blockchain network, rose 0.26% to $4,100 on Sunday, adding $10.78 to its previous close.

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Israeli PM Bennett on historic visit to UAE

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Israel’s Naftali Bennett arrived in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday (Dec 12) for the first official visit by a prime minister of the Jewish state, after the countries established diplomatic ties last year.

The trip announced by Bennett’s office comes with Israel making a renewed diplomatic push against international talks which global powers resumed with its arch foe Iran over the Islamic republic’s nuclear programme.

Bennett on Monday meets Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan to discuss “deepening the ties between Israel and the UAE, especially economic and regional issues,” the prime minister’s office said.

There was no immediate comment from the UAE on the visit which Bennett called “historic”.

He was received in Abu Dhabi by UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and an honour guard, according to his office.

The prime minister said he appreciated the “very warm hospitality”.

“I’m very excited to be here … as the first official visit of an Israeli leader here. We are looking forward to strengthening the relationship.”

Bennett’s Abu Dhabi visit follows a trip to Washington by Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz, who has repeatedly stressed that military options must be ready if negotiations with Iran collapse.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid was in London and Paris last month, where he called for tighter sanctions against Tehran.

Since the Abraham Accords were signed, Israel and the UAE have inked a series of deals on economic and trade cooperation.

Palestinians strongly condemned the Abraham Accords as they broke with decades of Arab League consensus against recognising Israel until it signs a peace establishing a Palestinian state with a capital in east Jerusalem.

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Narendra Modi’s twitter account briefly hacked

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s personal Twitter account has been “very briefly compromised,” the prime minister’s office has said.

A swiftly deleted tweet from his main @narendramodi handle declared India had adopted Bitcoin as legal tender and was distributing the cryptocurrency to citizens.

It said the Indian government had officially bought 500 Bitcoins and was “distributing them to all residents of the country”, along with a scam link.

The matter was escalated to Twitter and the prime minister’s personal Twitter handle was immediately secured, Modi’s office wrote in a tweet late on Saturday.

Any tweet shared during the brief period when the account was compromised must be ignored, it said.

It was not immediately known how long the personal Twitter handle of Modi, which has more than 73 million followers, was compromised.

Twitter users grabbed screenshots of the since-deleted tweet.

A Twitter spokesperson said in an emailed statement to Reuters news agency that the company took all necessary steps to secure the compromised account as soon as it became aware of the activity. An investigation revealed no signs of any other affected accounts, the spokesperson added.

Modi’s account was previously briefly compromised in September 2020, when hackers asked followers in a series of tweets to donate to India’s National Relief Fund through cryptocurrency.

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