Public holidays in Dubai can be broken down into two categories; those that are fixed in the standard Gregorian calendar (Western calendar), and Islamic holidays that follow the Hijri calendar (Islamic calendar).
The Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar with 365 days (366 days in a leap year), whereas the Hijri calendar is a lunar calendar with 354 days.
Islamic holidays will therefore shift 11 or 12 days every year in relation to the Gregorian calendar. Things are further complicated by the fact that the start date of each month in the Islamic calendar is determined by local sightings of the moon (and can vary by a day from the anticipated date).
The actual dates of Islamic holidays are only confirmed a day a so before they begin.
Public holidays in Dubai for 2018 are listed in the table below.
|Holiday||Start Date||Fixed/Islamic||Duration (days)||Notes|
|New Year||January 1 2018||Fixed||1||Falls on a Monday.|
|Israa and Miraj Night||April 13 2018||Islamic||1||Falls on the 27th day of Rajab (the seventh month of the Islamic calendar). Commemorates the time that Muhammad travelled from Mecca to Jerusalem and onto to heaven.|
|Eid Al Fitr||June 14 2018||Islamic||3||The end of Ramadan. Expected to fall on Thursday June 14.|
|Arafat Day||August 20 2018||Islamic||1||Second day of the Hajj (the yearly pilgrimage to Mecca). Expected to fall on Monday August 20.|
|Eid Al Adha||August 21 2018||Islamic||3||Honours the readiness of the prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son.|
|Islamic New Year||September 11 2018||Islamic||1||Also known as Hijri New Year. Marks the beginning of a new Islamic calendar year.|
|Birthday of Prophet Muhammad||November 19 2018||Islamic||1||Subject to moon sighting.|
|Commemoration Day||November 30 2018||Fixed||1||Also known as Martyr's Day. New public holiday to honour Emiratis who have died for their country.|
|UAE National Day||December 2 2018||Fixed||2||Celebrates the union of the emirates. Expect parades, firework displays, concerts, and more.|
As the Hijri calendar is shorter than the Gregorian calendar it is also possible for an Islamic holiday to be held twice within a western calendar year.
Generally speaking only public sector workers enjoy days off lasting the full duration of the public holidays. Most employees in the private sector get fewer days off. For example, government employees will get two days off to celebrate UAE National day, whereas those that work in the private sector will only get one day off work.
Ramadan is not a public holiday. It is ninth and holiest month in the Hijri calendar. During the month observant Muslim do not eat or drink during the daytime. Working hours are reduced.
Christmas Day is not a public holiday in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates. Islam is the official religion of the UAE, but the festivals and holidays of other religions are tolerated.
Shopping malls and many hotels will be decorated for the ‘festive season’, just as in western countries. However, expat-orientated schools will tend to hold ‘winter’ concerts rather than nativity plays.
Some western companies may give staff a holiday, though most workers wishing to celebrate the day will have to book time off.