It’s time to whip your calendar out again for the next round of holiday travel planning.
Most importantly is looking at available dates when travel is possible so you can start setting any extra leave dates you may need from work as well as budgeting how many trips you can afford and narrowing down your bucket list.
Please note this article was originally released pre-Covid-19. We will update any school holiday and public holiday dates as and when we become aware. Not all travel suggestions will be available in 2020.
UAE Public Holidays 2020
Religious holidays are always subject to change as the Hijri (Islamic) calendar is based on moon sightings. Some occasions may only be marked by the stopping of alcohol service for 24 hours, or if marked on a weekend only 6-day workers will get a day off on Saturday.
- New Years Day – 1 January 2020 – follows the Gregorian calendar, always a fixed day off
- Isra’a Wal Mi’raj (Rajab 27th) – the Prophets Ascension – est Sunday 22 March – not usually a day off
- Ramadan starts – (Ramadan 1) – est 23 April 2020 – not marked by a holiday but a change in business and school hours
- Eid Al-Fitr – (Shawwal 1) – est 24 to 26 May 2020 – can be marked by anything up to one week of holidays. Public Holidays have been announced in the UAE for Sun 24th to Tue 26th.
- Arafat Day – (Dhul al-Hijjah 9) – est 30 July 2020 – linked to Eid holidays
- Eid Al Adha – (Dhul al-Hijjah 10-12) – est 31 July to 2 August 2020 – can be marked by up to one week in holidays
- Hijri New Year (Muharram 1) – Sunday 23 August 2020 – will be marked in 2020 with a public & private sector holiday
- Mouloud (The Prophet’s Birthday) – est Thursday, October 29 2020 – not always an extra day granted but following on a Thursday could be a 3-day weekend
- Commemoration Day (also called Martyr’s Day) – Monday 30 November – often the date of observation is moved to link with National Day
- National Day – Wednesday & Thursday 2 & 3 December 2020 – always a 2-day break, usually attached to a weekend
NB Christmas Day and other Christian holidays are not formally observed. Many employers will be flexible, however, in granting Christian employees a day off but it will come from their annual leave allowances.
UAE School Holidays 2019-20
(Please note these vary by curriculum and Emirate, we have based this on guidance from ADEK and KHDA for schools starting with a September academic year. April starting curriculums will vary. Please check with your individual schools.)
- Autumn mid-term break – approx week commencing 20 October, vary in length
- Winter break – 13 December 2019 to 4 January 2020
- Spring break – 27 March to 10 April 2020 (altered to 6 March to 21 March)
- Summer break – commences 3 July 2020. Students likely to return 30 August 2020 but formal announcements for 2020-21 academic year are unlikely until May/June 2020.
Where to head at each UAE holiday break
Note travelling over popular holidays always adds to the cost. The earlier you commit to dates the better the price you will pay but you may risk not having the day off school/work as intended!
Hijri New Year
Friday 29 to Sunday 31 August 2019 [3 days]
Weather in UAE: Scorching! Expect 43c+ and humidity
The last-minute nature of this long weekend, and the fact many families have only just returned from summer break, we suggest keeping it local.
Commemoration Day / National Day Long Weekend
Friday 29 November to Tuesday 3 December 2019 [5 days]
Weather in the UAE: Expect temperatures up to 28c
There are plenty of good reasons to stick around the UAE for this holiday. While it might be cooling for the beach and swimming, it’s the perfect weather for camping and exploring outdoors.
We suggest you try our UAE winter weekend ideas at this time of year. Desert camping is a very popular option, as is road tripping to Muscat in Oman (beware it’s also the busiest weekend for border crossing).
If you are coming to Abu Dhabi, don’t miss our guide to 40+ things to do for Free (or really cheap). Also see our guides to popular Abu Dhabi attractions including:
Going further afield?
5 days is long enough to include a short flight too. Here are some of our favourite suggested short getaways from the UAE.
Approx 13 December 2019 to 4 January 2020 [3 weeks]
Weather in the UAE: Highs around 24c. Water temperature can be cool and occasional rain possible
With most schools getting 3 weeks off at this time, it’s an idea time to make some longer escapes at this time, both to take advantage of the cooler weather within the Middle East region, and short flights that can take you to the best winter wonderlands!
- Our best winter getaways coming soon!
If you are sticking around in the UAE, just be mindful its a very popular time of year for inbound visitors too. Attractions that normally have no queues are at their busiest over winter break so do factor this in.
Some schools may also grant a few days in mid-February
Approx Friday 28 March to Saturday 11 April 2020 [2 weeks]
Weather in the UAE: Highs around 30c, sunny days most likely but can rain
A perfect opportunity for exploring locally taking advantage of the early summer sun. Though do note, it’s also one of the busiest times for inbound tourism to Dubai and the UAE. As a guide, Easter is Sunday 12 April and UK Public Holidays run approx are 4 April to 19 April 2020.
Why not try:
Approx Friday 22 to Tuesday 26 May 2020 [5 days]
Weather in the UAE: High 30’s, hot out but water still refreshing
Many schools are likely to also tie this public holiday to a mid-term break. Dates are variable, so there’s every possibility there could be a 9-day break again. Here’s our full list of Eid Getaway suggestions at home and away (we will update this as we become aware of more deals in 2020).
- Some slightly cooler but sunny destinations to try include Cyprus, Turkey, Greece.
- Best beach resorts for families in the UAE
- Hotel resorts with a private pool
Approx Thursday 30 July to Monday 3 Aug 2020 [5 days]
Weather in the UAE: Extremely hot, expect Mid-40s.
This will fit in the very middle of summer during 2020. If you are not already on a summer escape, then it could be the perfect opportunity to get yourself away for a week, using minimal leave as at least 3 to 5 days are called as public holidays.
- We will update you on our favourite summer escapes soon.
Planning Tools for flights out of Dubai
We use Skyscanner as our starting point for any search to see what approximate flight prices and accommodation costs we should expect. Give it a shot here:
Don’t forget you can search from more than just DXB! Why not also try starting with:
- AUH for Abu Dhabi
- DWC for Al Maktoum Airport
- SHJ for Sharjah
- AE for all UAE airports
- If you’d like to get creative and see where you can go, use “Anywhere” as your destination.
Note for overseas visitors on UAE School Holidays
If you are trying to work out how busy attractions will be in the UAE, it’s more important to note when other countries have their school holidays, when inbound tourism to the UAE is at it’s busiest.
During the cooler months, particularly December Christmas to New Year and Spring Break – early April, it’s more likely that expat families stick around. But over the hottest summer months July & August, a lot of expatriate families leave the country.
Hotels can also be heavily discounted in the summer, but this is to reflect that it’s near impossible to be outside during the day and many outdoor activities are suspended. We talk more about what to expect in Summer here.
Don’t forget to jump over to our Family Travel Middle East chat group to discuss ideas with fellow parents. We will update in the group and our Facebook Page as we become aware of any great last-minute deals.