2020 was indeed a tough year for everyone; the pandemic confined everyone to their homes and forced most companies to ask their workers to operate from home. There were holidays too but one could hardly tell as most of the year was spent away from places where one could have easily enjoyed those holidays. The development of Covid vaccines began in 2020 and has taken a new turn (a positive one) over the past few months. 2021 ushered in a new dawn with renewed hope for everyone and so far, it’s been a great year. As public places begin to slowly get back to business, you can bet that this year’s public holidays will be more enjoyable than last year’s.
Speaking of public holidays, there’s always a handful of them in the United Arab Emirates. As a country that is known for its amazing work ethics, a lot of people believe there’s barely enough time to take a break in the country but that’s not the case.
As it is with other parts of the world, public holidays are also common in the United Arab Emirates, although most of them are Islamic-based. People who work in the private sectors now enjoy these holidays as much as those in the public sectors. At the start of each year, these public holidays are announced by the government to keep the masses properly informed. Some of these holidays (the ones that are Islamic-based such as the Eid holidays) are subject to changes as they are always confirmed at the sighting of the moon. What we are given at the start of the year are predictions of the dates these holidays are likely to be. This explains the inconsistencies in the dates each year.
We have prepared a detailed guide of the confirmed public holidays in the UAE in 2021 just so you can have a perfect plan for those periods. Below is a complete list of public holidays in the UAE in 2021.
New Year’s Day (January 1)
This is a popular holiday that is observed and celebrated worldwide. A lot of people believe this holiday belongs to a particular religion (Christianity) but it only marks the first day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. It is safe to say that this holiday is not peculiar to any religion as proved by the UAE and other Gulf countries. Most people usually take this time out to celebrate with their family and friends. If you’re in the UAE, it’s one of the days you should properly plan for because there’s always so much fun attached to it. Also, it’s a chance to take a break from work and refuel for the rest of the year that lies just ahead.
Eid al-Fitr (May 11 – 15)
This is the day that marks the end of the fasting and praying month which is widely regarded as Ramadan in the Islamic world. The exact date depends on when the moon is sighted but it’s likely to fall between May 11 and 15. A two-day holiday usually follows this day to further celebrate the end of the fasting and praying month.
Arafat Day (July 18 &19)
This is a very important day in every Muslim’s life and that’s why the government of UAE and other Arab countries have set this day apart as a special day. The Hajj pilgrimage is said to be one of the seven pillars of Islam and Arafat Day is the second day of the pilgrimage. On this day, pilgrims usually take a walk to a nearby mountain called Mount Arafa to pray. The certainty of this date depends on the moon but it’s been predicted that the day could fall on a Saturday (which is not considered a weekend in UAE).
Eid al-Adha (July 20 – 22)
Eid al-Adha is a day that has been set apart to celebrate Abraham’s (also known as Prophet Ibrahim) willingness to sacrifice his son. As a special day in Islam, it is only natural for the government of the UAE to set this day apart as a public holiday. The prediction has it that this day could fall on July 20, which is Sunday. If this happens, the residents of the UAE could enjoy extra three days off.
Al Hijri New Year (August 12)
The Islamic calendar is a whole lot different from the Gregorian calendar or any other calendar at all. The holiday is usually observed on the first day of the first month (usually known as Muharram) in the Islamic calendar. This year’s Al Hijri falls on a Thursday and workers can have all of Thursday, Friday and Saturday to themselves.
Prophet Muhammad’s birthday (October 21)
Just as it is with Christmas (the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ), Muslims also have a special way of celebrating the birth of Prophet Muhammad. It is known as Mawlid in Islam and is usually celebrated on the twelfth day of the third month of the Islamic calendar. It is not just a popular holiday in the UAE but also in the countries dominated by Muslims.
Commemoration Day (December 1)
Commemoration day in the United Arab Emirate, also known as Martyr’s Day, is a public holiday used to honour and celebrate Emiratis who died serving their country. It was declared as a holiday by H.E. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed in 2015 and since then, the day has been set aside in recognition of past heroes for their selfless acts of service to their country. This year’s Commemoration Day falls on Wednesday, December first.
National Day (December 2 & 3)
The United Arab Emirates is the formation of seven different emirates coming together to achieve a common goal. This year’s National Day will be a special one as the country will be marking half a century since the seven emirates joined forces to become the United Arab Emirates in 1971. The National Day comes right after Commemoration Day and a public holiday is given a day after to further continue the celebrations. It’s going to be a short yet lengthy break for the residents of the country.