Page update - Sep 17, 2022
The United Arab Emirates has a hot desert climate, or "hot arid climate" (code: BWh). This type of climate is characterized by high daytime temperatures throughout the year and extremely low rainfall. Only in the mountainous regions of the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah a mountain climate is found, and in some years even there is snow at winter.
Europeans living and working in the UAE like to joke, "There are two seasons in the UAE: hot and very hot". The weather statistics give the impression that the weather is always comfortable and that it is possible to vacate all year round. However, this is not the case. On this page we will detail the weather and the beach season in the UAE.
The main resort areas in the United Arab Emirates are located on the Persian Gulf coast. It is just 155 miles (250 kilometers) from the westernmost Abu Dhabi to the north-eastern Ras Al Khaimah. Naturally, the climate is the same in all the resorts of the UAE, except Fujairah region.
The Emirate of Fujairah is located on the coast of the Indian Ocean. The weather there is slightly different: on average, the air is 2-3 degrees cooler, the sea is 1-2 degree warmer.
Fujairah has one important advantage - in the summer there are no such extremely high temperatures. If in Dubai in the summer the air heats up to 105°F (+40°C) and above, then in Fujairah at this moment it is 93-100°F (34-37°C). Fujairah is best suited for holidays in the UAE in summer.
Rains are rare in the UAE. There is no precipitation at all in summer, but rain may happen from December to March. According to statistics, there are up to 4 inches (100 millimeters) of precipitation per year. To compare, in London it is 27 inches (690 millimeters). In New York it is 45 inches (1139 millimeters). On the island of Phuket in Thailand during the rainy season it falls 16 inches (400 millimeters) only in September.
But there are sandstorms and hurricanes, which can spoil your vacation. We will talk about these phenomena at the end of this page.
See sea water temperature statistics below.
You can bathe in the water of the Persian Gulf all year round. However, not all tourists agree with this statement. Each person is an individual.
Not everyone considers it suitable to bathe in winter in water with a temperature of 68-73°F (20-23°C), some find it too cold. In summer, the water in the Persian Gulf heats up to 86-97°F (30-36°C), which for some tourists is uncomfortable.
Study the numbers, decide for yourself what temperature is acceptable.
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Below are the air temperature statistics. The figures show the maximum temperature during the day, and the minimum at night.
Winter in the UAE is considered suitable for a beach holiday, but not very comfortable. The daytime temperature of 68-79°F (20-26°C), along with the wind can bring serious discomfort.
In the evening in winter the temperature can drop to 50°F (10°C). Take a sweater and jacket with you. We talked about the clothes set for trip to the UAE in detail in the review "What to take with you in the UAE".
Summer in the UAE can be very hot.
The highest temperature in the country is recorded in the western part of the desert in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi - 125.78°F (52.1°C). Of course, there is no such heat in the coastal tourist areas. The highest temperature record in the Emirate of Dubai is 118°F (47.8°C).
Summer in the UAE is considered an unfortunate time for vacation. Temperatures above 95°F (35°C) can be not only uncomfortable but also dangerous to health, especially for those suffering from heart and lung diseases.
To show the seriousness, here are some interesting facts:
- According to Ministerial Order MOHRE (Labor Ministry) 543 of 2011, it is forbidden to conduct work activities outdoors between 12.30pm and 3pm (the rule applies from June 15 to September 15). In 2021, the fines for violation are increased to AED 5,000 per worker (but no more than 50,000). See our page "Money in the UAE" for the current exchange rates of the dirham.
- In the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, there is a special safety program "Safety in Heat" for employees and employers. Most major companies in the emirate have already joined the program.
- In July 2017, car owners were allowed to overshadow their car windows up to 50% (previously only 30% was allowed). In the Emirate of Dubai, huge lines have lined up at car service stations. And it's not about the desire to be invisible inside the car, but the fact that in summer the air conditioners in the UAE cars can't cope with the heat.
- Several cars spontaneously inflame in the UAE every summer month. The cause is oil or fuel leaks, which ignite because of the heat. In August 2017, a bus with 27 passengers on its way from Abu Dhabi to Dubai (the most popular mode of transportation between Dubai and Abu Dhabi for tourists) caught fire. Fortunately, no one was injured.
- Let's tell you about the most recent case of spontaneous auto combustion due to heat (this page was updated in September 2022). On September 3, 2022, a black Range Rover caught fire on Sheikh Zayed Road. The car was completely on fire when firefighters arrived on the scene. As a result, the car burned completely. Fortunately, no one was hurt because the car was empty.
- Not only all the Dubai Metro stations but also bus stops in Dubai and Abu Dhabi are equipped with air conditioning.
Some tourists fly to the UAE in the summer despite the heat. In summer, the prices for tours and hotels drop a bit.
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There is no such thing as "beach season" in the UAE. During the hot summer and cold winter months, tourists still come, hotels do not close, and almost all attractions work.
Guidebooks for European and American tourists write that the best season in the UAE is from November to March. We have a little different opinion.
If you need only sea and sunbathing then the best months are October, November, April and March. Summer is not good because it's too hot. Winter is not good because of too short light day length.
If you need a beach plus attractions then the best months are from October to April. You can spend light time of the day on beaches and cool evenings and nights in malls or at attractions.
If you need only shopping or attractions then come all the year around. All the markets and malls in the UAE are air-conditioned. Most of attractions are indoors except water parks and some amusement parks.
Strong sandstorms and hurricanes are rare in the UAE, but if they happen then it can seriously spoil your vacation. But the worst thing is you can't predict sandstorms and hurricanes.
Strong winds come from the Arabian Desert and hit coastal cities, lifting and carrying sand. These winds are called "sharki" (Arabic for "east"), though most often these winds come from the south.
A large such storm occurred in Dubai on July 13, 2017. It began at 5.30am, peaked around 10am and did not stop until evening.
The maximum recorded wind speed was 40 kilometers per hour. Visibility dropped to 1 kilometer, and to 100 meters in some places. As it looked, see the photo near, click on the photo to enlarge to full screen.
The last such storm occurred on August 14-15, 2022 (this page was updated in September 2022). This time the storm was long, two whole days, but caused almost no damage.
In the event of a sandstorm, we recommend:
- Do not leave the hotel;
- If you do decide to leave the hotel, at least wear a medical mask and goggles;
- Do not swim in the sea. The sea can be unpredictable;
- Accept the fact that one or two days of vacation are lost irrevocably.
Remember that sandstorms can be very dangerous for those with lung diseases.
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Unfortunately, they have become a regular phenomena in the UAE in recent years.
In 2013, a storm struck on November 17. Between 80 and 190 millimeters of rain fell in various places along the coast. Schools and colleges closed. Dubai was even about to cancel the Dubai Airshow. Sharjah, Fujairah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and Ras Al Khaimah were the hardest hit. Roads, houses and parks were flooded. One person, Lieutenant Hassan Rashid Al-Shamili, died then his car was washed away.
In 2014, a storm hit Dubai and Sharjah on March 25 and 26. Roads were flooded and it took drivers 3-4 hours to get home instead of the usual 30-40 minutes. A huge traffic jam formed on the Sheikh Zayed Road between Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
In 2015, there were heavy rains in Dubai and Sharjah on January 20. Roads were flooded and traffic was difficult.
In 2016, March 9, it rained in Dubai. Car traffic in the city almost came to a halt. Nearly 300 millimeters of rain fell.
In 2017, storms hit all the Gulf Coast emirates on March 24. Winds up to 75 kilometers per hour and 95 millimeters of rain fell. In Ajman, the stage of The Desert Warrior Challenge was postponed. In Abu Dhabi, the Etihad planes could not fly out. Many kilometers of traffic jams formed in Dubai. The level of road flooding in Dubai can be seen in the photo above, click on the photo to enlarge.
In 2020, March 21, there was a strong storm, but people were barely affected as everyone was advised to be home due to COVID-19. But real estate was affected, especially in the Dubai Marina area.
In October 2021, a terrible cyclone called Shaheen was approaching the Persian Gulf. But the UAE wasn't hurt, as the cyclone has hit Oman, where it has lost all its energy. Congratulations to the people of the UAE. Our mercy to the people of Oman.
On January 1, 2022 there was a short storm that lasted only a couple of hours. Such a gift to Emiratians for the New Year. The rainfall ranged from 20 to 100 millimeters in different parts of the country. There was a strong wind.
Storms have come to the UAE every year since 2013. It is impossible to predict the moment of the storm, so it is difficult to plan a vacation to avoid it. Fortunately, the storm will not ruin your vacation completely, but only "eat up" a few days.
The Emiratis themselves are very much afraid of these storms. Not surprisingly, because they see the rain rarely. The common puddle is an extraordinary phenomenon for them. The usual lightning, they are afraid of. In addition, they have no experience of driving on wet roads, hence the large number of road accidents.
Snow in the United Arab Emirates in modern times has been observed four times in the mountains in the Emirate of Ras al-Khaimah.
On December 30, 2004, snow fell for the first time. At the time it caused an extensive reaction in the press in the UAE. Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi (the ruler of Ras Al Khaimah) personally went up to the mountains to see the snow and took a small amount to show reatives.
The snow in 2004 was the result of a dramatic cold snap, which led to bad consequences in the rest of the emirates. Rains became a reason for more than 500 traffic accidents being reported in Dubai, including one fatality.
On January 24, 2009, there was a second snowfall.
On February 5, 2017, snow fell on Mount Jabal Jais. A huge car line of people wanting to see the snow lined up to the mountain. Authorities did not allow people on the mountain, but some Emiratis managed to get there and ride the snow slides, as reported by CNN.
January 15, 2020 was the last time snow fell on Mount Jabal Jais.
On January 10, 2022, the temperature dropped below 0°C on Jabal Jais Mount. There was plenty of ice, but no snow. But even the ice was a highlight for the Emiratis.
In ancient times, the climate on the territory of the modern UAE was not so severe, and was similar to the Mediterranean climate. There were even ancient agricultural civilizations - the Hafit, Umm Al-Nar and Wadi Suk cultures. You can read more about them in our review "History of the UAE".
In the UAE, there are criminal penalties and huge fines for those who leave a child alone in a car. Unfortunately, there have been cases where children have died in the heat in cars, and after that they have imposed penalties. Read about what else you need to know about traveling with children in our review "Vacationing in the UAE with children".
We wish your pleasant vacation in the UAE not to be spoiled by storms and hurricanes, and read our interesting pages about this country (see list of the pages below).
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