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.
The weekend in Dubai is Friday and Saturday. If a public holiday falls on one of these days, workers will generally get the next weekday off.
Public holidays in Dubai and the UAE for 2021 are listed in the table below. Actual dates may vary slightly as Islamic holidays are confirmed.
|Holiday||Public Holiday Dates||Fixed/Islamic||Notes|
|New Year||January 1 2021||Fixed||Start of the Gregorian calendar.|
|Eid Al Fitr||May 11 - 15 2021||Islamic||Ramadan 29 - Shawwal 3|
|Arafat Day||July 19 2021||Islamic||Second day of the Hajj (the yearly pilgrimage to Mecca). Islamic day 9 Dhu al-Hijjah (19 July).|
|Eid Al Adha||July 20 - 22 2021||Islamic||Islamic days 10 -12 Dhu al-Hijjah.|
|Islamic New Year||August 12 2021||Islamic||Also known as Hijri New Year. Marks the beginning of a new Islamic calendar year.|
|Prophet Muhammad's Birthday||October 21 2021||Islamic|
|Commemoration Day||December 1 2021||Fixed||Also known as Martyr's Day. New public holiday to honour Emiratis who have died for their country.|
|UAE National Day||December 2 -3 2021||Fixed||Celebrates the union of the emirates. Usually offers 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.
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.
New Year’s Day (January 1 – Gregorian calendar) is a public holiday but New Year’s Eve isn’t.
The Islamic New Year (Hijri) is also a public holiday in the UAE.