UPDATE: The next holiday for the public and private sectors in the UAE will be April 23rd 2017 - on Isra'a and Miraj night.
Note: Public holidays add up to an additional 14 days of holiday each year BUT Islamic holidays that fall onto a weekend do not translate into holidays from work, or do not necessarily translate. This will be up to the discretion of your employer.
If Eid falls on a weekend for example, there may be no actual holiday from work, although of course it remains a deeply religious event and celebration.
Schools are usually treated as public sector entities which means they get longer holidays than private sector companies. This can cause some difficulty for parents in private sector companies that will have to find cover for their children. Eid for example, is usually a 5 day holiday for the public sector, and a 2 day holiday for the private sector.
If you are new to the UAE note that holidays that you have come to expect do not travel. If you're from Europe or the US forget Labour Day, Thanksgiving, Easter or Christmas holidays - although do expect the telephone lines to go dead to Europe/US. If you're from India, forget the likes of Diwali, but still expect the lights to come on across balconies across the emirates.
Note: Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and Dubai holidays are consistent across the UAE.
UAE PUBLIC HOLIDAYS 2017
|Occasion||Gregorian Year 2017||Hijri Year 1438||Holiday Duration|
|New Year||Jan 1, 2017||1|
|Israa & Miaraj Night*||April 23, 2017||27 Rajab||1|
|Ramadan expected to begin*||May 27, 2017||1 Ramadan||-|
|Eid Al Fitr*||June 25, 2017||1 Shawwal||3|
|Hajj season*||August 23, 2017||1 Dhu Al-Hijjah||-|
|Arafat Day*||August 31, 2017||9 Dhu Al-Hijjah||1|
|Eid Al Adha*||September 1, 2017||10 Dhu Al-Hijjah||3|
|Hijri New Year's Day*||September 22, 2017||1 Muharram 1439||1|
|Martyr's Day||November 30, 2017||1|
|Prophet Mohammed’s Birthday*||November 30, 2017||12 Rabi' Al-Awwal||1|
|UAE National Day||December 2, 2017||2|
What the holidays mean...
AL ISRA'A WAL MI'RAJ – ASCENSION DAY
Al Isra'a Wal Mi’raj is an Islamic holiday which is observed annually on the 27th day of the Islamic month of Rajab, according to the hijri calendar. The holiday marks the night Allah took Mohammad (PBUH) on a journey from Makkah to Jerusalem, and then to heaven. The journey was made in a single night, hence the name.
EID AL FITR
Eid Al Fitr means “festival of breaking the fast”. The holiday is a celebration which marks the end of Ramadan (which is forecast to begin on June 6). It is a time to show kindness to others and love for Allah.
Eid Al Fitr begins automatically after the last day of Ramadan, on the first day of Shawwal.
Arafat Day is the second day of the annual haj (or pilgrimage). The holiday takes place the day before the start of Eid Al Adha. At dawn, Muslim pilgrims make their way from Mina to a nearby hillside called Mount Arafat and a plain called the Plain of Arafat.
EID AL ADHA
Eid Al Adha translates to the “festival of sacrifice”. The holiday honours Ibrahim and his willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail for Allah. Ismail is happy to oblige before Allah sends His angel, Jibra’il, to inform Ibrahim that He has already accepted the sacrifice.
Goats are sacrificed, and divided into three parts: one part for the family, one part for relatives, and one part for the poor. The holiday begins on the 10th day of Dhu Al Hijja – the last month of the hijri calendar.
Martyr’s day is a new public holiday and is fixed on November 30. The day was declared by His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, in 2015 to honour Emiratis who have died for their country.
UAE NATIONAL DAY
The UAE’s National Day is fixed on December 2 each year. Although the UAE – or Trucial States as it was until 1971 – was never part of the British Empire, it was a British Protectorate. The protectorate treaty was withdrawn on December 1 1971, paving the way for the federal unification of the Trucial States.
Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, and Fujairah made up the original UAE, with Ras Al Khaimah joining a year later in 1972. 2016 will be the UAE’s 45th birthday.
PROPHET MOHAMMAD’S (PBUH) BIRTHDAY
The birthday of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) is celebrated on the 12th day of Rabi Al Awwal. In Arabic, the holiday is referred to as Eid Al Mawlid an Nabawi.