Holidays in The UAE 2021-2022
Opening A Bank
Account in Dubai
Whether you are visiting or residing in the UAE, it is essential to be aware of the annual holiday calendar. Government agencies and institutions such as currency exchange offices, immigration services, banks, schools and nurseries may be closed for several days in a row due to the holiday period.
For instance, in Ramadan, institutions and businesses have reduced working hours. Furthermore, the official weekend in the UAE falls on Friday and Saturday, while Sunday is the beginning of the working week. We have compiled a list of the holidays and significant dates in the Emirates to ensure you won’t miss out on anything important.
Introduction to The Public Holiday Calendar in The UAE
The Public Holiday
Calendar in The UAE
In December 2020, the cabinet announced the list of public holidays for both the private and public sector for the years 2021 and 2022 to organize the workflow amid the pandemic. In total, there are 8 official public holidays in 2021 and 2022.
It is essential to keep in mind that the UAE is a very religious country, and a major part of holidays here are Muslim celebrations. Unlike the Gregorian calendar, the Islamic (also known as Hijri) calendar depends on the movement of the moon. The exact day of the beginning of the Muslim holidays is determined by a special committee and it may differ in various countries across the globe. Thus, the holiday dates in the Gregorian calendar change annually. Moreover, every year Hijri celebrations shift back 11 days.
Not every holiday in the UAE is declared an official ‘day off’, and the list changes frequently, depending on the economic situation, where the government may increase or decrease the amount of holidays. In some cases, when a festive occasion falls on the weekend, the authorities can switch the official date to a weekday which will equate to an extra day off.
National Holidays in The UAE During 2021
National Holidays in
The UAE During 2021
Below you will find a list of all public holidays in 2021 announced by the UAE government, their dates, history of origin and specific features.
New Year’s Day – 1 January
Regardless of nationality and religious beliefs, every resident in the UAE enjoys celebrating New Year’s Eve and Day. The main events across the Emirates are parties, parades and stunning fireworks displays. In 2014, Dubai had the world’s longest and largest fireworks event, and every year it strives to break its own record. It is worth mentioning that in 2020, private NYE parties both in Abu Dhabi and New Year were prohibited as a COVID-19 precautionary measure. For this year, the decision regarding private New Year festivities is yet to be announced.
Eid Al-Fitr – 29 Ramadan to 3 Shawwal (12-15 May)
Eid al-Fitr is one of the two most important religious holidays in the UAE (the second one is Eid Al Adha) which celebrates the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan, during which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. Traditionally, Muslims buy new clothes for this festivity and give money to their children as a gift. There are also early morning prayers held in the mosques and in the streets. It is common to give charity to the poor and needy and cook special festive meals during the Eid al-Fitr holiday.
Arafat Day – 9 Zul Hijjah (18-19 July)
Taking place about 70 days after the end of Ramadan, Arafat Day marks the second day of Hajj (pilgrimage). Hajj also marks a day when the religion of Islam was perfected and approved as a way of life for all Muslims. The mount of Arafat in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is where the prophet (PBUH) gave his farewell sermon. On this day, the pilgrims gather on the mountain praying and supplicating to Allah.
Eid Al-Adha – 10-11 Zul Hijjah (19-23 July)
As mentioned above, Eid al-Adha is the second major Muslim festival in the annual calendar. It marks the end of the pilgrimage to Mecca. Eid al-Adha is translated as the "Festival of Sacrifice", during which, the celebration of Muslims commemorate the trials of the prophet Abraham by slaughtering an animal such as a goat, sheep, camel or cow. The meat retrieved from the sacrifice is given away to the poor and needy. Eid al-Adha symbolizes the willingness to give up some bounties for the sake of friendship and help those in need.
Islamic New Year – Last day of Zul Hijjah-1 Muharram (Likely to Fall on 12 August)
The Islamic New Year is the first day of Muharram; the first month of the Islamic calendar. The first year of the calendar started in Gregorian CE 62 when the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) emigrated from Mecca to Medina with his followers. The entire month is of holy significance and it is dedicated to remembrance, prayers and special rituals.
Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday – 12 Rabi' Al-Awwal (Likely to Fall on 18-19 October)
Also known as "Milad un Nabi", this day commemorates the anniversary of the birth of the proclaimer of Quran and founder of Islam. The birthday of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is celebrated with religious lectures and recitals of verses from Quran. Furthermore, mosques are decorated with lights to mark the celebration.
Commemoration Day – 1 December
Commemoration Day is marked annually to commemorate the sacrifices and dedications of Emirati martyrs. The UAE has launched a number of initiatives to honour its fallen heroes and provide support and consolidation to their families. It is essential to know that Commemoration Day is not a festival but a day to recall and honour those who have given their lives for the sake of the country in the field of humanitarian, military and civil service.
National Day – 2-3 December
Dubbed the Spirit of the Union, this day celebrates the unification of all seven Emirates into one nation under the guidance of the first nation’s president, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The official UAE National Day celebration takes place at Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi. It involves aerobatic displays, breathtaking performances and inspirational speeches. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has declared 2021 "The Year of 50" as the nation marks its milestone Golden Jubilee. The 50th birthday celebrations officially started on 6 April 2021 and will end on 31 March 2022.
Important Dates in The UAE During 2021
Important Dates in
The UAE During 2021
The festive occasions described below are not public holidays, however they are widely celebrated and recognized in the UAE.
Mother’s Day – 21 March
This holiday is celebrated in countries across the globe to show love and gratitude to the important role that mothers play in the lives of society and their families. It is common to give cards, flowers and gifts as a way to thank mothers for all the hard work they do. A lot of special promotions happen in jewelry stores, supermarkets and shopping centers around the date of Mother’s Day. It is claimed that the very first celebrations of motherhood can be traced back to Ancient Egypt, as a part of a Pharaonic tradition.
Start of Ramadan – 12 April
Ramadan lasts for 29 or 30 days, depending on the movement of the moon. It is believed that the Holy Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) during this time. To pay tribute to this groundbreaking event, Muslims all over the world go through a month of fasting from sunrise to sunset. In fact, fasting is one of the five pillars of the Islam religion. Alongside eating, drinking and smoking, believers withdraw from enjoying all sorts of entertainment during fasting.
It is worth noting that UAE law mandates a 48-hour working week per employee. Normal working hours are reduced by two hours each day during Ramadan. Moreover, school hours should not exceed five hours during the holy month.
Father’s Day – 21 June
Father’s Day is set aside each year to honour the paternal blood and everything fathers do to raise their children and provide for their families. Although this day is not as big as Mother’s Day in terms of celebration, it has grown in significance in recent years. Children make cards or present gifts to their fathers on Father’s Day. Across the UAE there are special deals and offers for Father’s Day including restaurant packages and promotions in theme parks.
Start of Hajj Season – 1 Zul Hijjah (17 July)
The Hajj pilgrimage is one of the most important traditions in Islam and involves carrying out a journey to Al Kaaba in Mecca. Hajj is seen as the time of self-renewal and symbolizes equality, bringing people of all races and social statuses for a series of rituals lasting for five or six days. The event dates back to the days of the Prophet Abraham and is also linked to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) who has established the rites performed at the end of Hajj.
Public Holidays in The UAE During 2022
Public Holidays in
The UAE During 2022
Here is a list of public holidays in 2022 applicable to both private and public sectors:
Note: the dates of Muslim holidays may vary according to the moon sightings.
Important UAE's Dates During 2022
One has to keep in mind the following significant dates when staying or visiting the United Arab Emirates:
School & Bank Holidays
School and Bank
Holidays in The UAE
All public and private departments, federal ministries and institutions in United Arab Emirates (including nurseries, banks and schools among others) will be closed during the following holidays in 2021-2022:
Many residents decide to leave the UAE for a short vacation on Eid Al Fitr, Eid Al Adha and the National Day holidays due to public holiday days being clubbed together around the weekend. According to a decree issued by the cabinet in 2019, all private and public sector employees have the same number of public holidays. As a rule, public holidays are paid and they will not be counted towards the annual leave of a worker.
As of 2021, the total expat population has come to 8.84 million, which accounts for approximately 89% of the UAE population. Thus, it is common to find events and things to do for celebrations that do not necessarily originate from Islamic culture. Holidays such as Halloween, Diwali and Easter, just to name a few, are all non-Muslim festivals, nevertheless, UAE residents are welcome to celebrate these events.
Note: all the below-mentioned occasions are not official holidays in the UAE.
St. Valentine’s Day
UAE residents love celebrating St. Valentine’s Day, and a huge portion of locals and expats find it a great reason to show love and affection towards someone special. Large cities such as Abu Dhabi and Dubai are decorated with chocolates, balloons and flowers. For a romantic gourmet experience, luxury restaurants such as Cipriani Abu Dhabi, Armani and Brasserie Boulud offer a mouthwatering special five-course menu to couples in love. If you are looking for a Valentine’s Day getaway, there is an opportunity to book a staycation at one of the 5-star hotels including Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort, Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi and Nikki Beach Resort & Spa, just to name a few.
International Women’s Day
The annual celebration of International Women’s Day is commemorated every 8 March to acknowledge the role of women and contributions to the political, cultural, economic and social development around the world. The president of the UAE, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan empowers women in the country by encouraging them to assume some of the highest positions within the Emirati government and the Federal National Council. The fun events and activities that ladies in the UAE can benefit from during the celebration of International Women’s Day include luxury spa treatments and facials, ladies' nights in different clubs and bars, as well as unique menus in gourmet restaurants.
St. Patrick’s Day
St. Patrick’s Day is quite eventful in the UAE with bars, restaurants and pubs offering themed evenings and special menus to celebrate 17 March. Just this year, in 2021, the Emirates turned green for the occasion. Iconic landmarks such as the Burj Khalifa, the Burj Al Arab, Dubai International Airport and the Dubai Frame were coloured in green, which is the symbolic colour of St. Patrick’s Day. It is recommended to visit the following eateries and bars in Dubai to celebrate a patron saint of Ireland: Garden on 8, The Irish Village, The Croft and Blacksmith Bar & Eatery, among many others.
In Easter, multiple establishments across the Emirates organize special deals full of fun festivities which are perfect for families. In 2021, Al Maryah Island and Legoland Dubai organized a contactless Easter-egg hunt, while various bakeries sold traditional hot cross-buns. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, attending mass in person was forbidden, however it was watched via live-stream from different churches around the country.
While Halloween is not as popular in the UAE as it is in the USA and UK, the country still hosts different events and parties in hotels, bars, clubs and restaurants to get involved. Trick-or-treating is a favorite activity in the residential communities both for children and adults. You can check community Facebook groups to find neighbours who join in on the fun. Moreover, UAE visitors and residents have an opportunity to check out a Halloween barbecue with DJ sets on the Palm Jumeirah Beach or the Dubai’s largest annual Halloween costume party in Barasti, among many other exciting events on 31 October.
Despite Christmas not being an official holiday, there are multiple celebrations held across the Emirates. As 25 December approaches, shops, malls, hotels and homes are decorated with giant Christmas trees and there are festive tunes sounding everywhere. Destinations such as the Souk Madinat Jumeirah and WAFI Mall host annual Christmas fairs, where visitors are treated to fabulous decorations, traditional food, beverages, contests, songs and gifts. Furthermore, the most expensive Christmas tree in the world is being assembled in Abu Dhabi at the luxurious Emirates Palace. You will also find many services available for different denominations in the UAE churches.
The Indian holiday, ‘Festival of Lights’, is a major highlight on the annual calendar of the UAE. The main Diwali falls on the third day of the New Moon, thus, the date varies each year. In celebration of a 5-day festivity, Dubai lights up with multiple huge fireworks displays and organizes a series of thematic events. For instance, Dubai Festival City Mall hosts a huge laser, fire, light and fountain show. In 2020, the Palm Fountain, the world’s largest fountain, at Pointe performed a specially-curated show to the song Malhari by Vishal Dadlani.