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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

UAE public holidays 2018 announced by Abu Dhabi Government

The Abu Dhabi Government has announced the list of public holidays planned for 2018

Muslims observe Eid Al Fitr prayers at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Christopher Pike / The National
Muslims observe Eid Al Fitr prayers at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Christopher Pike / The National

The Abu Dhabi Government has announced the list of public holidays planned for 2018.

“The following list shows the public holidays in the UAE for the year 2017. The official reference to determine Islamic occasions, such as the beginning of Ramadan or Haj, is the Hijri Calendar. It is based on the phases of the moon. Hence, the exact dates of Islamic events vary from one Gregorian year to another as they depend on the local sightings of the moon,” the announcement reads.

All federal ministries, public departments and institutions will be closed on the following holidays:

Occasion Gregorian Year 2018 Hijri Year 1439 Holiday duration
New Year's Day January 1 1
Israa Wal Miraj April 13 Rajab 27 1
Ramadan May 16 Ramadan 1
Eid Al Fitr June 14 Shawwal 1 3
Hajj Season August 12 Dhu Al Hijjah 1
Arafat Day August 20 Dhu Al Hijjah 9 1
Eid Al Adha August 21 Dhu Al Hijjah 10 3
Hijri New Year September 11 Muharram 1, 1440 1
Prophet's Birthday November 19 Rabi Al Awaal 12 1
Martyrs' Day November 30 1
UAE National Day December 2 and 3 2

* Islamic holiday exact dates are subject to moon sighting and may differ from date given.

According to the website, the UAE National Day holiday will be two days, Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha will be three days, and the others will be one day.

This page will be updated throughout the year, with the latest news as it is announced. Relevant dates for both the public and private sector in the UAE will be linked.

So what are the UAE public holidays?

The fireworks at Burj Khalifa
The fireworks at Burj Khalifa

New Year

Like many countries around the world, the Gregorian New Year's Day is a public holiday in the UAE and is one of three secular holidays observed in the country.

Israa Wal Miraj: April 13, 2018 or Rajab 27, 1439

Also known as the Ascension to Heaven, this holiday marks a religious occasion in Islamic history.

On this night, the Prophet Mohammed travelled from Makkah to Jerusalem, where he met with all the prophets who preceded him at Al Aqsa mosque and led them in prayers. He then travelled to the heavens, and received divine instructions on acts of worship such as prayers. On that day, Muslims were assigned to five prayers a day.

Start of Ramadan: May 16, 2018 or Ramadan 1, 1439

Known as the month of fasting, Ramadan is the holiest month in the Islamic calendar.

It combines several acts of worship that are unique to this month. Muslims are required to fast every day during Ramadan from dawn to sunset.

They should also refrain from negative behaviour and bad manners while observing Ramadan, so that their fasting counts. There are also optional acts of worship that Muslims are advised to do during the holy month, such as Tarawih prayers, which take place in the evening across UAE mosques, where worshippers gather to pray together. During the last 10 days of Ramadan, Qiyam, or midnight prayers, are also held across all mosques. Moreover, the Quran is believed to have been revealed to the Prophet Mohammed during the last 10 days of Ramadan.

Muslims observe Eid Al Fitr prayers at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Christopher Pike / The National
Muslims observe Eid Al Fitr prayers at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Christopher Pike / The National

Eid Al Fitr: June 14 to 16 or Shawwal 1 to 3, 1439

This three-day Eid (holy feast) marks the end of the month of fasting, Ramadan. It is recommended for Muslims to wear new clothes and visit family and friends, and exchange greetings with every person they come across.

Hajj Season, Karim Sahib / AFP Photo
Hajj Season, Karim Sahib / AFP Photo

Hajj season begins: August 12 or Dhu Al Hijjah 1, 1439

Hajj is the Islamic pilgrimage which takes place every year in Makkah, Mina, Muzdalefa and Mount Arafat in Saudi Arabia.

It is an obligation for every capable Muslim to perform Hajj at least once in his or her lifetime. It has a specific set of rituals and guidelines that were identified during the days of the Prophet Mohammed. It is the fifth pillar of Islam, and whoever performs Hajj fully, and maintains good behaviour and ethics during Hajj, will have his previous sins pardoned.

Arafat Day, 2017. Suhaib Salem / Reuters
Arafat Day, 2017. Suhaib Salem / Reuters

Arafat Day: August 20 or Dhu Al-Hijjah 9, 1439

During this day, pilgrims travel from Mina to reach Arafat at dawn. It is also the pivotal day of Hajj; pilgrims remain on the mountain until sunset reciting prayers and getting closer to Allah. Recommended acts on Arafat include distributing water to fellow pilgrims.

Eid Al Adha: August 21 to 23 or Dhu Al Hijjah 10 to 12, 1439

Translated into the feast of sacrifice, this holiday marks when God tested Prophet Ibrahim’s faith and obedience by ordering him to slaughter his son Ismail, through a divine inspired dream. Prophet Ibrahim told his son about the dream, and he immediately told him that they should follow God’s order. As they both headed to follow the order, God intervened and sent a sheep to take Ismail’s place. Therefore, during this first day of Eid Al Adha, capable Muslims are recommended to slaughter a sheep and distribute its meat to the poor. The duration of Eid Al Adha is four days, but the holiday is only three days.

Hijri New Year: September 11 or Muharram 1, 1440

Is the first day of the Islamic calendar, or lunar calendar, which marks the day the Prophet Mohammed migrated from Makkah to Madinah.

Prophet Mohammed’s birthday: November 19 or Rabi Al Awwal 12, 1440

This day marks the birth of the Prophet Mohammed in Makkah.

Commemoration Day, 2017. Hamad Al Kaabi / Crown Prince Court - Abu Dhabi
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Commemoration Day, 2017. Hamad Al Kaabi / Crown Prince Court - Abu Dhabi ---

Commemoration Day: November 30

Also known as Martyrs' Day, since 2015, the UAE has marked November 30 as a day to honour Emiratis who died in the line of duty. The first Emirati killed serving the UAE was Salem Suhail bin Khamis, at the end of November in 1971, shortly before the UAE’s formation.

National Day, 2017. Reem Mohammed / The National
National Day, 2017. Reem Mohammed / The National

UAE National Day: December 2 to 3

This marks the formation of the United Arab Emirates in 1971, headed by the Founding Father of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed.