Traditional Islamic holidays follow the lunar calendar of Hijri and are floating. The Hijri calendar begins with the arrival of the Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina in 622 A.D. The Islamic calendar is lunar and the year here has 354 days, i.e. 12 months whose length alternates between 30 and 29 days. The UAE's year is therefore 11 days shorter than ours, which follows the Gregorian calendar. The two calendars thus move relative to each other, and roughly once every 33 years the difference between the years decreases by one year. UAE residents have days off on public holidays.
In the UAE, all Muslim holidays are observed, including the Islamic New Year, or the Prophet Muhammad's Birthday - Milad al-Nabi, which in 2014 fell on 13 January.
The main Islamic holiday is Ramadan (the name of the month), which is celebrated in the 9th month of the Islamic calendar and during which the faithful observe a fast from dusk to dawn. Therefore, all restaurants in the Emirates are closed during the day, and only at night is it permissible to eat at will.
In recent years, mainly due to the number of foreigners living in the Emirates, many restaurants have opened. However, their entrance is discreetly covered so that the food and diners cannot be seen from the outside.
In any case, as tourists we should respect these customs and be aware that it is not advisable to eat and drink in the streets on these days. It is even forbidden and you may be reprimanded or face police action if you break these rules.
Pregnant women, children, or the sick and elderly do not have to observe the fast. During the summer months, it is also advisable to replenish fluids. In any case, please respect others and maintain discretion !
The date of the next Ramadan falls on 1 April - 30 April 2022. Immediately after the end of Ramadan, the festival of Eid Al-Fitr is celebrated, accompanied by celebrations and family visits (in 2022 from 2 May - 3 May 2022).
Eid Al-Adha is a three- to four-day feast (in 2022 it falls on May 2) that celebrates pilgrims travelling to Mecca, and richer families usually sacrifice a sheep and share the meat with the poor.
Secular holidays are also celebrated, such as New Year's Day on 1 January, although the Islamic one falls on a different day. The national public holiday is December 2, the day the 6 emirs signed a joint treaty in 1971 to form the UAE federation.
More and more visitors are attracted by prestigious world-class events. For example, the Dubai World Cup horse race, or the Desert Classing PGA tournament, a gathering of elite golfers.
The famous Shopping Festival in Dubai, which is held every year from mid-January to mid-February, attracts more and more tourists every year with its bargain prices.
The New Year in Dubai is kicked off with a marathon of top runners from around the world, followed in February by another sporting event, the Dubai Tennis Open.
An interesting feature of the month of March is the somewhat unusual for the local environment celebration of the Irish national holiday St. Patrick's day, celebrated in the UAE as Children's Day.
In October, the winter season begins with the regular weekly horse races, which are watched by dignitaries from all over the Emirates in their VIP stands. One of the most popular traditional sporting events in the UAE is camel racing, for which visitors head mainly to the city of Ras al-Khaimah. Entry is free and the races are held in winter, most often on Fridays.