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Holidays in UAE 2023 & 2024


Page update - Jan 4, 2023

What are the main national holidays in the United Arab Emirates? Which holidays are days off and which are not? Which holidays are interesting to tourists? And on what days is it not recommended to vacation? Read the answers and see the holidays calendar in the UAE on this page.

Holidays days off in 2023

On 20 December 2022, holidays (including weekends postponements) for 2023 were announced. So, the days off are:

New Year - 1 January.

Eid al-Fitr - 20 April - 23 April (29 Ramadan - 3 Shawwal).

Day of Arafah - 27 June (9 Dhu al-Hijja).

Eid al-Adha - 28-30 June (10-12 Dhu al-Hijja).

Islamic New Year - 21 July.

The Prophet's Birthday - 29 September.

Martyrs' Day and National Day - 2-3 December.

Just reminder! As of January 3, 2022, work week has changed in the UAE. The new 4½-day work week has been introduced. The weekends are now the second half of Friday, Saturday and Sunday. See our page "Friday and weekends in the UAE" for all the details.

This is important!

First. We begin with the calendar for the current year and next year. Right after the calendar, read the descriptions of all the holidays.

Second. The United Arab Emirates is a very religious country. Most of the national holidays in the UAE are Islamic holidays, and their dates are determined by the Islamic lunar calendar. Accordingly, the dates according to the Gregorian calendar change every year. In the description of each such holiday, we will give the dates for several years in advance.

Third. Not all holidays in the UAE are days off. Each year the list of days off changes. Authorities increase the number of days off if they need to "cool down" the economy. They decrease the number of days off if they need to "spur" the economy. In the table below, days off are highlighted in green.

Fourth. In some cases, the UAE applies days off movements if the holiday falls on a weekend (Friday, Saturday, Sunday).

Calendar of holidays:

Year 2023 Year 2024
New Year January 1 January 1
Isra and Mi'raj* February 18 February 7
Month of Ramadan* March 22 -
April 20
March 11 -
April 9
Eid al-Fitr* April 20-23 April 9-12
Day of Arafah* June 27 June 16
Eid al-Adha* June 28-30 June 17-19
Al-Hijri (Islamic New Year)* July 19
(day off July 21)
July 8
Birthday of the Prophet Muhammad* September 27
(day off September 29)
September 16
Flag Day November 3 November 3
Martyrs' Day December 1 December 1
National Day December 2-3 December 2-3

* Holidays according to the Islamic lunar calendar. Dates are predicted, the actual date may change. In Islam, the phase of the moon is determined by their own methods, and the arrival of a certain date may be announced as a day later or a day earlier.

Also we want to note that the Islamic holidays can be on different days in different countries, because the moon is observed differently in different regions of our planet.

Below we will talk about each holiday in the UAE in detail.




New Year

The center of New Year celebrations in the UAE is the Downtown area in the Emirate of Dubai. They arrange a spectacular pyrotechnic show there. Fireworks are launched not only from the ground, but also from the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. As it looks, see the photo near, click on the photo to enlarge to full screen.

Few years ago a laser show also started. Lasers project a picture on the surface of the Burj Khalifa. Fireworks in Dubai are also staged in The Palm Jumeirah and around the Burj Al Arab.

In other emirates, the New Year celebrations are more modest. Sharjah has its own fireworks show on Al Majaz Promenade. And in Abu Dhabi there are pyrotechnic shows on the Corniche promenade and Yas Island.

The day off in the UAE is January 1. This is the end of the New Year holidays for the Emiratis.

January 2 is a full working day, if it is not on Friday, Saturday, Sunday (weekend in the UAE). Since 2022, the United Arab Emirates have switched to a 4½-day workweek. Read more in our review "Friday and weekends in the UAE".



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Isra and Mi'raj

It is a religious holiday. It is celebrated on the 27th day of the month of Rajab according to the Islamic lunar calendar.

Translated into the Gregorian calendar: 2020 - March 22, 2021 - March 11, 2022 - March 1, 2023 - February 18, 2024 - February 7, 2025 - January 27.

The name roughly translates to "journey and ascension". It is the day the angel Jabra'il appeared to the Prophet Muhammad and carried him from Mecca to Jerusalem. From the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the Prophet Muhammad ascended to Heaven, where he received the five pillars of Islam from Allah.

This holiday used to be a day off, but in recent years it has not been set as a day off in the UAE. The Muslims don't celebrate the holiday in any colorful way. Some of the believers fast.

For the tourists it is not a holiday, but rather the opposite. Some stores and restaurants are closed, alcohol is not sold and poured in the bars from evening until the end of the next day. However, each emirate has its own rules regarding alcohol during Isra and Mi'raj.




The month of Ramadan

This holy month in Islam is the month of fasting. There are no days off for Ramadan, but many believers consider it as a holiday.

For tourists in Ramadan there are both great pros and great cons. Read our detailed review "Ramadan in the UAE" about it.




Eid al-Fitr (Feast of Breaking the Fast)

This holiday is also called either Uraza Bayram, or Ramadan Bayram, or Ramazan Bayram. It is the feast after the end of fasting in the month of Ramadan, that is, the first day of the month of Shawwal.

Translated to the Gregorian calendar: 2020 - May 24, 2021 - May 13, 2022 - May 2, 2023 - April 21, 2024 - April 10, 2025 - March 31.

Days off are usually scheduled for the 30th day of the month of Ramadan, the day of Eid al-Fitr and the day following it.

It is not customary to hold any major events on this day in the UAE. The celebration begins on the morning of Eid-el-Fitr with a ceremonial prayer. In the afternoon, it is customary to have a rich and festive family meal. So the stores are often crowded, and the lines at the cashiers can be huge.

But there are pluses: malls and supermarkets have a lot of promotions for the holiday. Eid al-Fitr is one of the best moments for shopping. Water and amusement parks always have discounts on tickets, but there are also a lot of people at the attractions on those days.



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Day of Arafah (Arafat)

It is celebrated on the 2nd day of the pilgrimage to Mecca. It is believed that any good deeds or sins are multiplied on this day.

Translated to the Gregorian calendar: 2020 - July 30th, 2021 - July 19th, 2022 - July 8th, 2023 - June 28th, 2024 - June 16th, 2025 - June 6th.

Arafah Day is an official holiday in the UAE. No great celebrations are usually held on this day. It is considered to be the best day for a believing Muslim to spend in prayer. Some believers fast.

The pilgrims walk to the Arafah Hill on this day. It is located 12.5 miles (20 kilometers) from Mecca. It was on this hill where the prophet Muhammad gave his last great sermon before his death.

Pilgrims stand, pray, repent, and purify themselves of their sins on the hill from noon to sunset. This is called wuquf (standing before Allah). Without a wuquf on the Arafah Hill, the pilgrimage is considered invalid. See the photo above for what the hill looks like on this day, click on the photo to enlarge to full screen.




Eid al-Adha

This holiday is also called "Kurban Bayrami" or "Kurban Bayram". All those names are translated as "Feast of Sacrifice". It is celebrated immediately after the Day of Arafah and lasts two days.

It is a holiday in honor of the believer Ibrahim, who was ready to sacrifice his son (the name of the son is not mentioned). However, Allah did not allow the sacrifice to take place. The story almost exactly repeats the biblical legend of Abraham's sacrifice of his son Isaac.

Translated into the Gregorian calendar: 2020 - July 31 - August 1, 2021 - July 20-21, 2022 - July 9-10, 2023 - June 29-30, 2024 - June 17-18, 2025 - June 7-8.

Both days are days off. It turns out that the weekend lasts for three days in a row: 1 Day of Arafah + 2 days of Eid al-Adha.

Muslims on this day perform the additional morning Eid prayer. It is customary to meet with relatives and friends. In the UAE they organize street parties, children's festivals, and hold fireworks in the evening.

The most exciting question from Western people! Probably many readers are aware that on Eid al-Adha it is customary to sacrifice a ram. Actually, it can be either a sheep, or a goat, or even a camel. Each country has its own preferences and possibilities. Question: Is there a public sacrifice in the UAE?

Answer: No, they do not, it has long been forbidden by the sanitary laws of the country. The animal is slaughtered either at home (which is a rarity nowadays), or in a closed slaughterhouse. It is customary to keep one third of the meat of the sacrificial animal, give one third to friends and relatives, and donate one third to the poor.



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Al-Hijri - Islamic New Year

It comes on the first day of the month of Muharram according to the Islamic lunar calendar.

Translated into the Gregorian calendar: 2020 - August 20, 2021 - August 10, 2022 - July 30, 2023 - July 19, 2024 - July 8, 2025 - June 27.

There used to be three days off on New Year's Day. Now there is only one.

Alcohol is not sold on the first day of the month of Muharram, and in some emirates on the second and third days. There are no mass events. It is recommended for the believers to spend this time in thoughts and prayer.

It is interesting that the Islamic New Year does not come at midnight or even at night. It comes with sunset, when the muezzin shouts the call to the night prayer (namaz) isha. If you hear the call, it means the New Year has come.

The name Al-Hijri is translated as "departure". The Islamic calendar dates back to the departure of the Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina in 622 according to the Gregorian calendar. Muhammad learned that he was going to be killed and was forced to leave Mecca.




The birthday of the Prophet Muhammad

This holiday is also called "Mawlid". It is celebrated on the 12th day of Rabi al-Awwal. It is declared a day off, but no big events are held. There are lectures and seminars on religious topics for the youth.

If you translate it into the Gregorian calendar: 2020 - October 29, 2021 - October 19, 2022 - October 8, 2023 - September 27, 2024 - September 16, 2025 - September 5.

Now only one day off is declared for the Prophet's birthday in the UAE.

It is an interesting fact that the UAE celebrates Mawlid, while neighboring Saudi Arabia does not. The fact is that the Emirati are Sunni (85%) and Shiite (15%), and they celebrate Mawlid. The residents of Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, are Salafists, and they consider this holiday wrong. In the opinion of many Western people, all Arabs in the Persian Gulf are the same. But as you can see, they are far from being the same.

There used to be a tradition of performing poems in honor of Muhammad on Mavlid, and there were even chants. These songs and poems could be heard right on the street. Now it is a rarity.




Flag Day

Celebrated on November 3. The holiday is young - introduced in 2013.

Flag Day is now NOT a day off.

An interesting fact is that the November 3 date has nothing to do with the flag. It is the anniversary of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan's inauguration as president in 2004.

On this day, it is customary to display the flag of the United Arab Emirates. We spoke about the flag in detail in the review "Flag of the United Arab Emirates". Flag-raising ceremonies are usually held at 11am. In Abu Dhabi, the largest such ceremony can be seen at the flagpole behind the Heritage Village. In Dubai at the flagpole at the Etihad Museum. In Sharjah, at the flagpole on Al Majaz Island.

It is also a day to commemorate the founding fathers of the UAE country, Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan and Sheikh Rashid Al Maktoum first of others. Read about them in our reviews "Sheikhs of the Arab Emirates" and "Sheikh Zayed - the father of the UAE".




Memorial Day (Martyrs' Day)

Celebrated on December 1, starting 2019. Before 2019, it was celebrated on November 30. The holiday was moved to avoid creating a "window" between Memorial Day and UAE National Day on December 2-3.

It is the youngest holiday in the UAE, introduced in 2015. The day is declared as a day off. It is a holiday to commemorate all Emiratis who died for their country. The first was a soldier named Salem bin Hamis Suhail, he died Nov. 30, 1971, on Grand Tunb Island when the island was attacked by Iranian troops.

From 8am to 11am, national flags are lowered across the country. At 11:30am there is a minute of silence, followed by the anthem. That's the whole celebration.

This holiday seems rather strange. The UAE has not participated in major wars or bloody conflicts. The number of deaths on the battlefields in the history of the UAE is about a two hundred people. The UAE army suffered the maximum losses in the operation in Yemen, 108 soldiers were killed (figure in Septeber 2022). But Yemen war continues and there will be more loses.

The names of all the killed Emiratis can be seen in Abu Dhabi. There is a large memorial in their honor in front of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. It is a pity that the names are written there only in Arabic.




UAE National Day

It is celebrated on December 2. It is also designated as a day off on the 3rd of December.

It is the main secular holiday in the United Arab Emirates. On this day in 1971 the emirates of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Fujairah signed the Union treaty. In 1972 the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah joined the treaty.

It is celebrated with great pomp. Fireworks, festivals, entertainment, decorating the streets and squares. Abu Dhabi hosts a military parade and demonstration of military equipment, the UAE Air Force show. See photos from the air show near, click on the photo to enlarge to full screen.

Emiratis dress up and decorate their cars. They drive through the streets with flags sticking out of the windows. It is somewhat like on those days in European countries when the national soccer team wins a match in a major tournament.

If you are in the UAE on December 2, you will see that not everyone in the country shares the festive mood. The fact is that of the 10 million inhabitants only 1 million have citizenship. See our review "Population of the UAE" for details.




Friday

Friday is the holy day of the week in Islam. We could say that it is a mini-holiday. The opening hours of sights are changed, some commercial facilities are closed. Read more in our review "Friday in the UAE".

Enjoy your vacation in the UAE, and read our pages about the country (see the list of the pages below).

TIPS

Tips for Tourists in the UAE

IMPORTANT FOR TOURISTS

What to Take for the UAE

What You Should Not Do in the UAE

To the UAE with Kids

Sharks in the UAE

Weather in the UAE by Month

Holidays in the UAE

Are Unmarried Young Women
Allowed to Enter the UAE?

All-Inclusive in the UAE

Power Sockets & Voltage in the UAE

Hotels in the UAE with Own Beach

GENERAL INFORMATION

The UAE - Info, Facts, Figures

What Language is Spoken in the UAE

Population and Citizens of the UAE

History of the UAE

Flag of the UAE

Friday and Weekend in the UAE

Ramadan in the UAE

Sheikh Zayed - Father of Nation

Sheikhs of the UAE

GIFTS AND CUSTOMS LAW

What to Bring from the UAE

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VAT Refund in the UAE

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Date Fruits in the UAE

Camel Milk and Dairy Products

Bakhoor and Oud

MONEY AND EXPENSES

Money in the UAE - Emirati Dirham

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