With so many different nationalities settled in the UAE it should be no surprise that the UAE is home to many cultural celebrations. But, we don’t all get a two week Christmas break.
With some exceptions, official public holidays in the UAE tend to centre around the Islamic calendar. All employees are given the day off for the Day of Ascension. Two days are given at the end of Ramadan; one for Arafat Day (which refers to Mount Arafat), and three for Eid Al Adha, the festival of sacrifice. Toward the end of the year there is another for the Islamic New Year, and another to mark the birthday of the Prophet (PBUH). Each of these events is a mandatory public holiday for all employees, and industries that cannot close (shops for example) are expected to award a day off in lieu.
So what happens at Christmas, or during Diwali? As you might have gathered if you are a regular reader of this blog the UAE is not an overbearing place. During large celebrations of cultural significance elsewhere in the world, shopping malls will be festooned, people will dress in appropriate clothing, and generally time off is awarded (but not mandated by the government). You’re still going to get business calls on Christmas Day, and if you’re of Indian descent nobody of going to complain if you add a bit of colour, or light some candles for Diwali. In many respects the UAE is similar to the UK in this regard. When it comes to cultural festivals, you play them how you see them.