Public holidays can add up to an additional fourteen 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, and in some cases the UAE government.
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.
Click here for an updated list of UAE school holidays.
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, it is useful to 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. If you're from India, forget the likes of Diwali (but still expect the lights to come on across balconies across the emirates!).
A few more things to be aware of:
Because Islamic holiday dates are subject to change due to moon sightings, UAE public holiday dates may differ slightly to the below list. We will however keep this article updated, so keep coming back. In addition, a public holiday in the UAE can often be moved to the beginning or end of a week. In the UAE, weekends are Friday and Saturday.
|1-Jan||Saturday||New Year's Day||1|
|30-Apr-4 May||Eid al-Fitr||4|
|8-Jul||Friday||Arafat (Hajj) Day||1|
|9-11-Jul||Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice)||1|
|30-Jul||Saturday||Al-Hijra (Islamic New Year)||1|
|8-Oct||Saturday||Prophet Mohammed's Birthday||1|
|3-Dec||Saturday||National Day Holiday||1|
|1-Jan||Sunday||New Year's Day||1|
|21-24 Apr||Eid al-Fitr||4|
|27 or 28 Jun, tbc||Tues or Wed||Arafat (Hajj) Day||1|
|between 28 Jun - 1 Jul, tbc||Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice)||1|
|18 or 19 Jul, tbc||Tues or Wed||Al-Hijra (Islamic New Year)||1|
|26 or 27 Sept, tbc||Tues or Wed||Prophet Mohammed's Birthday||1|
|30 Nov||Thursday||Commemoration Day||1|
EID AL FITR
Eid Al Fitr means “festival of breaking the fast”. The holiday is a celebration which marks the end of Ramadan. 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.
Commemoration Day is a relatively new public holiday, having been 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.
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.
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