burj khalifa from beneath lit by street decorations

Worst Time to Visit Dubai (It’s Not When You Think!)

by Dubai Travel Planner

We’re going out on a limb here; the worst time to visit Dubai may not be when you think it is.

If you’re researching your trip to Dubai, I bet you’ve read hundreds of articles telling you, “Don’t go to Dubai in summer”, “Dubai is too hot”, “Only visit Dubai in the winter months” and our favourite “avoid Dubai in Ramadan”.

But we really think it comes down to perceptions of what makes a great vacation. Do you like to bag a bargain? Engage in outdoor activities? Spend all your time lounging by the pool by day, then clubbing at night?

Whatever sort of vacation vibe you’re going for, everyone will have their favourite time of year in Dubai; it’s certainly not a one-size-fits-all kinda destination as it’s a place that appeals to such a vast audience of travellers.

However, we here at Dubai Travel Planner have a clear worst time to go to Dubai. Well, several, in fact.

Simply put, if you hate crowds and the frustration of lining up for everything and paying top dollar, skip the most popular times of year to visit Dubai. We would suggest that the worst times to visit Dubai are:

  • During the two weeks surrounding Christmas and New Year
  • Any of the Eid public holiday long weekends

You’re OK to disagree with us, but honestly, we don’t think you’ll get the best perception of what the city is all about if you visit at these times.

They’re not complete no-go zones; if you love to party, attend large events, and have the cash, they could be just what you’re looking for in a Dubai vacation.

We’ll explain here why we think you’re better off avoiding these times when planning your vacation in Dubai.

What and When are the Eid Public Holidays?

So, I am sure most of us know when Christmas and New Year fall on the Gregorian calendar at the end of December/start of January, but what about Eid?

There are two Eids you need to be aware of (Eid being the Arabic word for “festival” or “celebration”) and the fact that the Arabic or Hijri calendar differs from the Gregorian calendar by about 10 days.

Eid al-Fitr (Eid ul-Fitr)

Eid al-Fitr is a festive Muslim holiday that marks the end of the Ramadan fasting month. From the 1st to the 3rd of Shawwal (the 10th Islamic month), you will find a vibrant mix of religious observances, cultural festivals and modern entertainment such as firework displays.

It is indeed a very festive time in Dubai as families and friends locally come together, and malls extend their trading hours, offering “Eid sale” specials; gifts are exchanged, new clothes are purchased and charity “Zakat al-Fitr” is abundant.

The expected dates for Eid al-Fitr in 2024 are from the night of April 9 through 12 April, though a 6-day long weekend (possibly even a 9-day break) will likely be declared.

arabic ladies celebrating eid with henna painting
It is common practice for women to decorate themselves with henna for Eid celebrations

Eid al-Adha (Eid ul-Adha)

Also known as the “Festival of Sacrifice,” Eid al-Adha commemorates the willingness of Prophet Abraham to sacrifice his son in obedience to God’s command. It’s observed with special prayers, sacrificing an animal like a sheep or a cow, and sharing the meat with family, neighbours, and the less fortunate.

The city also sees festive decorations, mall shopping promotions, fireworks displays, cultural performances, and extended public holidays to mark Eid al-Adha.

Eid al-Adha occurs after the Hajj Pilgrimage to Mecca, Arafat Day (considered the most important day in the Islamic calendar), the 9th day of Dhul-Hijjah, the last month of the year. Eid al-Adha commences on the 10th day and lasts 3 to 4 days.

Arafat Day and Eid al Adha are likely to fall from 15 to 18 June 2024 (subject to moon sighting), normally resulting in a 4-day break or longer if attached to a weekend.

Whilst the festivities are great fun, you will find hotels are at full capacity over these festive breaks and attractions such as the theme parks and water parks may entice visitors with special resident offers. Simply put, everything is ultra crowded over the two Eid celebrations

The Government is notoriously slow in announcing public holiday dates; extra days are often, but not always, taken if the dates align with a weekend. The private sector and public sector are still not aligned. This causes workers and schools uncertainty and a glut of last-minute holiday and staycation bookings, driving prices in the UAE even higher.

Should You Visit Dubai During Ramadan

Ramadan can be misunderstood by those unfamiliar with the Islamic culture.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, during which Muslims around the world fast from dawn until sunset, refraining from eating, drinking, and certain other physical needs. This month is considered the holiest in Islam, commemorating the revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad. Besides fasting, Muslims engage in increased prayer, reflection, and community involvement.

A Moon Sighting Committee determines the exact start of Ramadan; however, in 2024, the holy month is anticipated to fall from 11 March to 9 April.

traditional items seen for the breaking of the fast in ramadan iftar offerings in dubai

Things in Dubai have changed dramatically over the last ten years. Yes, it used to be a time when many businesses would all but shut down over the Holy Month; day time dining for non-Muslims could only happen in licenced premises behind closed doors, and there were hefty fines for non-compliance. This is no longer the case.

The vast majority of attractions in Dubai will keep regular hours (other than Religious tours, for example), and dining establishments remain open. You might find some smaller businesses may open just before sunset or “iftar”, the breaking of the fast.

We have a complete guide here on what to expect during Ramadan in Dubai

Overall, we think Ramadan is an excellent time to visit Dubai and the UAE. Just do it respectfully and appreciate there will be slight changes in the availability of some attractions and events. Embrace the culture at this time, attend an Iftar, see what suhoor is all about, and take the time to learn more about the religious observances.

Should You Visit Dubai in Summer?

This is honestly not the scary beast it once used to be. Yes, Dubai in summer is hot. So is much of southern Europe, Far East Asia, Africa, southern USA and the Caribbean. Because summer is, well, hot. Once you start heading anywhere near the equator, guess what?! It’s Hot!

Summer in Dubai realistically runs from the end of May to mid-October.

What Dubai does well, though, is setting up tourist facilities that help you cope with the heat. We have a detailed guide over here to tackling summer in Dubai.

If you absolutely hate sweating and the heat and prefer the outdoors to being stuck indoors, Dubai in summer is not going to be for you. There’s a good reason you read a lot of advice saying summer is the worst time to visit Dubai.

However, if you are happy to be flexible with your time, appreciate indoor attractions in Dubai during the peak heat of the day, and only venturing poolside later in the afternoon and evening, you can cope with the Dubai heat.

What you will miss out on visiting Dubai in summer are the many seasonal events that occur throughout the winter, such as Global Village, the Dubai Miracle Garden, Garden Glow, the Ripe Markets, Dubai Safari and a few other key venues that cannot cope so well with the extremes of summer.

In Dubai over the hottest summer months, July to September, you will find good hotel deals, stay-and-play packages, better all-inclusive offers and fewer crowds. For those wanting to visit Dubai on a budget – summer can actually be the best time to visit Dubai.

crowds attending global village in dubai over the winter
Global Village in Dubai only operates in the cooler winter months

So, When Should You Visit Dubai?

Now this really boils down to your reasons for visiting.

Beach lovers, we recommend you look at the shoulder months; there may be a wind down in some seasonal events, but from May to June and late September and through October, you’ll find the best beach and pool weather without the peak crowds.

Things really cool down from November and through to April. It’s great to plan your stay in Dubai around many of the festivals and events in Dubai that happen in the cooler winter months, but be conscious of those absolute peak periods for crowds and prices in late December and again in mid-April 2024.

  • Note school holidays locally occur from the second week of December through until 2 January, and Spring Break from late March to early April (this year, schools don’t return until after Eid al Fitr)

January and February are the best months for outdoor adventures in the UAE. Get into the mountains and enjoy some hikes, ziplining, and cycling. Take a walking tour or hop on a boat cruise.

Our favourite month of all, though, for visiting Dubai is November – we think it strikes that perfect balance between cooling days, pleasant water temperatures and plenty of fun events happening around the Emirates.

So tell us, do you agree with our argument on the worst time to visit Dubai?

We know it won’t stop most visitors from coming at these peak times, as let’s be frank, it’s when they have the time available to visit. However, we hope those who are flexible when they can travel reconsider coming at these busiest times so you can see the city shine at its best.

What Type of Traveller to Dubai Are You?

You may like to pop over and read next:


Before you go… More important things you should know when planning a trip to Dubai

Booking.com

Take me back to all the best Dubai Travel Advice

Please note we are not a travel agency. This site is a travel blog to help newcomers to the UAE and transit passengers self plan their trip, we cannot book your flights, hotels, visas or connections for you. We may make a small commission if you click on any of our recommendation links.

Dubai Travel Planner

You may also like