If you are planning your trip to Dubai or if you live and work in the UAE, then you should know the dates of the Public Holidays UAE 2023. This is because religious and civil holidays greatly affect life in the cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, as well as in the other Emirates, such as Sharjah, Ras al-Khaimah and Ajman. Shop hours may vary, there may be closures of attractions, museums, public transport and theme parks. Conversely, on some public holidays in the UAE, ticket prices are lower and attractions are in high demand.
Public Holidays in the UAE concern all workers (both in the public and private sector) and students. Schools and universities will be closed and families will take the opportunity to have a few days of relaxation and fun, so you can expect long queues at the ticket offices, lots of traffic on the streets and delays everywhere.
Religious holidays have their own calendar of events and rituals, which will allow you to better connect with the local culture. During these times, more respect for local customs is required, and you may find the cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi quieter than usual. Civil and international holidays (such as New Year’s Eve in Dubai, which is one of the city’s major events) usually cause hotel rates to skyrocket, as do flights, tour and activity tickets. So book well in advance!
Below you will find the list of Public Holidays UAE 2023, with a brief explanation of the various holidays. You will also find a calendar of some of the main events planned in Dubai, as these too could bring more crowds to the city, with hotels full and prices skyrocketing.
Public Holidays UAE 2023: Dates and Calendar
|1 Jan||Sun||New Year’s Day|
|20 Apr||Thu||Eid al-Fitr Holiday|
|21 Apr||Fri||Eid al-Fitr|
|22 Apr||Sat||Eid al-Fitr Holiday|
|23 Apr||Sun||Eid al-Fitr Holiday|
|27 Jun||Tue||Day of Arafah|
|28 Jun||Wed||Eid al-Adha|
|29 Jun||Thu||Eid al-Adha Holiday|
|30 Jun||Fri||Eid al-Adha Holiday|
|19 Jul||Wed||Islamic New Year|
|27 Sep||Wed||Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday|
|1 Dec||Fri||Commemoration Day|
|2 Dec||Sat||National Day|
|3 Dec||Sun||National Day Holiday|
These dates of the Public Holidays UAE 2023 are the official ones released by the UAE Cabinet of the Government (source: UAE Official News Agency). The dates of Islamic holidays are determined according to moon sighting. These dates are the most up-to-date available.
UAE Public Holidays Explained
New Year’s Day
Celebrated in most of the world, New Year’s Day is one of the civil holidays observed in the UAE and follows New Year’s Eve, one of the most important events of the year, especially in Dubai. Traveling to the UAE during this time allows you to experience the city to its fullest, full of life and happenings. But December and January are also among the busiest months, and tourism in Dubai is in peak season, with high rates for hotels, tours and activities. Essential to book in advance!
It is not a public holiday, but a holy month, during which Muslims devote themselves to prayer and fasting. Travelers to the UAE this month will find the city quieter, as most of the clubs, bars and restaurants are closed during the day. Acts disrespectful of local customs are not welcome. Public drinking, shouting and blatant displays of affection could be severely prosecuted by the police. Here you will find a guide to Ramadan in the UAE with a list of do’s and don’ts.
Its meaning is roughly “Holiday of Breaking the Fast” and it is a major Islamic holiday which, as its name suggests, follows the holy month of Ramadan. In fact, Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the month-long dawn-to-sunset fasting of Ramadan.
It is observed on the first day of Shawwal in the Islamic calendar which, unlike the Gregorian calendar (widely adopted in the world), varies according to the phases of the moon, sighted by local religious authorities. UAE Government authorities release official dates for public holiday of Eid al-Fitr. Religious observance day may slightly differ from public holidays, especially when it falls on weekends.
Day of Arafah
Yawm ‘Arafah is an important Islamic holiday that falls on the 9th day of Dhu al-Hijjah, according to the Islamic Calendar. It is the day before the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha, and the second day of the Hajj pilgrimage. In fact, pilgrims on this day approach Mount Arafat, the place where Prophet Muhammad gave one of his last sermons about him in the final year of his life.
Eid al-Adha is the main Islamic holiday and is widely celebrated in families, when children receive gifts, as well as other family members. The feast celebrates the willingness of Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Ismail as an act of obedience to Allah. Given Ibrahim’s gratitude, Allah prevented the killing of his son, providing a sacrificial lamb in his place. For this reason, animals (usually lambs or rams) are sacrificed on the day of Eid al-Adha, part of whose meat is eaten during a family banquet, and part is given to friends and the poor.
Islamic New Year
As already mentioned, the Islamic Calendar differs from the Gregorian one. So according to the Islamic calendar there are different months, which have different lengths, and New Year’s Day usually differs from what is January 1 in the Gregorian calendar.
Although the UAE follows the (international) Gregorian calendar for current affairs and celebrates New Year’s Day on January 1, like much of the world, the Islamic New Year is also celebrated here. The day is called Muharram 1 (al-Muḥarram is the first of the 12 months of the year according to the Islamic calendar).
Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday
Also known as Mawlid, this public holiday observed in the UAE and many other Muslim countries celebrates the birthday of Prophet Muhammad. The holiday is commemorated in the third month of the Islamic calendar, called Rabi’ al-awwal. The officially recognized date is the 12th Rabi’ al-awwal, although in other Muslim countries the date (as well as observance as a public holiday) may differ slightly.
Previously known as Martyrs’ Day, Commemoration Day is one of the civil holidays in the UAE. On this day we celebrate the sacrifice of those citizens of the country who died within the UAE or abroad in the course of carrying out their work and mission, whether it is in the civilian, military or humanitarian fields.
UAE National Day
The civil holiday of National Day follows Commemoration Day and celebrates the anniversary of the federal unification of the emirates that form the UAE. This crucial turning point in 1971, just after gaining independence from the British protectorate, was a milestone in the process that led the 7 Arab Emirates to become the modern country it is today.
These days, parades, celebrations and fireworks are held across the nation. Families come out to have fun and the attractions can get quite crowded. Dubai is decorated in the colors of the national flag, as is the Burj Khalifa. The fireworks show held in Dubai is memorable, so if you visit the UAE these days, don’t miss it!
Dubai School Holidays 2023
In addition to UAE Public Holidays, schools observe extended holiday periods. Parents are likely to choose to travel and enjoy leisure time with the family around these times. This means that attractions (theme parks), beaches, hotels and public transport may be busier during school holidays.
- Winter Break: 12th December – 2nd January
- Spring Break: March 27 – April 14
- End of school/academic year: June 28th
- Beginning of the school/academic year: 29 August
Other interesting Tips for your Trip
Here you will find lots of resources and advice from the locals that will surely come in handy.
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