It’s time to whip your calendar out again for the next round of holiday travel planning over the next year! Here’s what to expect in 2023 and looking forward to 2024.
We’re 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 Middle East travel bucket list.
UAE Public Holidays 2023
Religious holidays are always subject to change as the Hijri (Islamic) calendar is based on moon sightings and varies by approximately 10 days to the Gregorian calendar every year. Some occasions may only be marked by the stopping of alcohol service for 24 hours (in Dubai).
- New Year’s Day – 1 January 2023 – follows the Gregorian calendar, always a fixed day off (no extra public holiday to be given)
- Ramadan starts – (Ramadan 1) – est 2 April 2023 – not marked by a holiday but a change in business and school hours.
- Eid Al-Fitr – (Ramadan 29 to Shawwal 3) – est 3 to 5 May 2023 – can be marked by anything up to one week of holidays, TBC moon sighting.
- Arafat Day – (Dhul al-Hijjah 9) – est 27 June 2023 – linked to Eid holidays, confirmed by moon sighting.
- Eid Al Adha – (Dhul al-Hijjah 10-12) – est 28 – 30 June 2023 – can be marked by up to one week in holidays – final announcement TBC.
- Hijri New Year (Muharram 1) – est 20 July 2023 – usually marked with a public & private sector holiday –
- Mouloud (The Prophet’s Birthday) – est 8 October 2023 – not always observed as a public holiday
- Commemoration Day (previously known as called Martyr’s Day ) – 1 December 2023 – always a day off
- National Day – 2 & 3 December 2023 – always a 2-day break, usually attached to a weekend; an extra day is likely to be granted
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 2023-24
(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.)
- Winter break – 10 December 2022 to 1 January 2023 [3 weeks]
- Midterm break – around one week commencing 13 February 2023, varies in length; some schools only
- Spring break – 25 March to 9 April 2023 [2 weeks]
- Summer break – commences on 27 June for some schools, others are after Eid, from 8 July 2023. Students likely to return on 28 August 2023 [7-9 weeks]
- Autumn mid-term break – around one week commencing 16 October 2023, varies in length, some schools only
- Winter break – 9 December 2023 to 1 January 2024 [3 weeks]
- Mid-term break – around one week commencing 12 February 2024; some schools only
- Spring break – Expected to be combined with Eid Al-Fitr – some schools may get from 23 March to 14 April 2024 [3 weeks]
Where to Head at Each UAE Holiday Break
Note, travelling over popular UAE 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!
Approx 3 weeks
Weather in the UAE: Highs around 24°C. The water temperature can be cool and occasional rain possible
With most schools getting 3 weeks off at this time, it’s an ideal 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 it’s a very popular time of year for inbound visitors too. Attractions that generally 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
Why not take the opportunity to try one of the UAE’s beautiful glamping spots?
Approx [2 weeks]
Weather in the UAE: Highs around 30°C, sunny days most likely, but it can rain
A perfect opportunity for exploring locally and 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 it usually coincides with Easter. Ramadan will commence approximately on 22 March.
Why not try:
Approx 5 days
Weather in the UAE: High 30°C‘s, hot out but water still refreshing
Many schools are likely also to tie this public holiday to a small mid-term break. Dates are variable, so there’s every possibility there could be a 9-day break. Here’s our full list of Eid Getaway suggestions at home and away.
- Some slightly cooler but sunny destinations to try include Cyprus, Turkey or Greece.
- Best beach resorts for families in the UAE
- Why not try one of these hotel resorts with a private pool
Approx 6 days
Weather in the UAE: Extremely hot, expect Mid-40°Cs.
As we approach the hottest months of summer, if you’re not already plotting an early escape from the UAE, why not try:
- Catching the start of the Khareef in Salalah, Oman
- Try an island escape to one of the nearby Indian Ocean Islands
Hijri New Year Observed
Friday 21 July 2023 [3 days]
Weather in UAE: Scorching! Expect 43°C+ and humidity
Falling, most likely on a Tuesday but to be observed on a Friday attached to the weekend, it will make for a great mid-summer long weekend. If you’re staying in the UAE over the summer we suggest keeping it local with a staycation, look out for hotels with fabulous pool deals.
Commemoration Day / National Day Long Weekend
Friday 1 December to Tuesday 5 December 2023 [5 days]
Weather in the UAE: Expect temperatures up to 28°C
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.
Going further afield?
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.