UAE: Staff likely to call in sick, take annual leave to watch Fifa World Cup, poll says – News

Many residents say they also secretly watch games on their computers or smartphones during their work shifts



KT photo used for illustration

KT photo used for illustration

Released: Thu 24 Nov 2022 11:38 am

Many staff in the United Arab Emirates and the Middle East are likely to take a day off their annual leave – or even call in sick – just to watch Fifa World Cup matches, a new survey has found.

In GulfTalent’s survey, some employees said they would watch the games during working hours, while others would request a full day’s vacation; leave work early; or just call in sick.

Survey results show that employees who work remotely or in hybrid mode are twice as likely to call in sick as employees who work full-time in the office.

The Fifa World Cup being held in Qatar has gripped the region, especially Dubai, and many football fans have settled in the emirate to watch the matches. These fans travel to and from Doha every day, made possible by a large number of flights operated by flydubai, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Air Arabia.

Around 77 percent of employees in the region plan to watch at least some of the Fifa World Cup matches, including 41 percent who plan to watch the games during working hours as World Cup fever grips the region.

Of these, about a third expected they would be allowed to watch the games, while one in six said they would covertly follow the games by streaming them live to their computer or smartphone.

The survey was based on online responses from 7,000 professionals from nine countries in the Middle East.

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employer’s response

Many employers respond in very different ways, ranging from stricter attendance checks and penalties – like warnings – to a degree of controlled flexibility for employees.

Some respondents indicated that they are allowed to take time off, or to request time off, to watch certain games on days when the store is less busy.

Some companies have set up TV screens in the office at certain times for watching games together. Others take employees to games after office hours as a team-building initiative.

Trip to Qatar

16 percent of respondents outside of Qatar plan to travel to Doha to watch some matches in person.

Among Gulf nationals, World Cup-related travel intentions were highest among UAE nationals, with one in three Emirati respondents planning to travel to Qatar. It was followed by nationals of Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait, where one in four respondents said they intended to travel.

Among golf’s major foreign groups, Indian and Pakistani professionals are the main segments expected to attend the Games in significant numbers.

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