UAE Public Holidays & School Holidays 2020

It’s time to whip your calendar out again for the next round of holiday travel planning.

UAE Holidays 2019-20 - Plane over Dubai

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 Day1 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 DayWednesday & Thursday 2 & 3 December 2020  – always a 2-day break, usually attached to a weekend
When to visit Bahrain

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. 

Mosque Religious Holidays

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.

Check out some of our indoor ideas for Dubai and indoor ideas for Abu Dhabi, and a great opportunity to play home town tourist.

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

Interesting places to visit in Ajman (+ top family hotels)

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).

Muscat skyline
Road trip to Muscat over the National Day long weekend

2019 will also see National Day 48 coincide with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, meaning that Grand Prix day itself will, in fact, be a day off for the first time.

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:

And if you’re looking for places to stay, check out our guide to Saadiyat Island Resorts, and our favourite Desert Resorts in the UAE. 

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.

Winter Break

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.

Taking a family tour of the breathtaking Musandam Peninsula, Oman

Some schools may also grant a few days in mid-February

Spring Break

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:

View from Bahla Fort
Exploring Oman by road is a popular Spring road trip

Eid Al-Fitr

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).


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.
Is it safe to travel to Egypt with kids?

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.

For more on the best time to visit the UAE, check out this article.

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.


Dates correct as at August 2019. This page contains affiliate links which may earn us a small commission at no extra cost to you. You can read our full terms of use and disclosure policy here.