Dubai resident Anzal Lateef went on a tour around Europe during the year 2022’s last official holiday. He combined his four-day UAE National Day break and took four additional paid leaves to vacation in France, the Netherlands, Italy and Austria.

Anzal is among thousands of expatriates in the UAE who typically use official holidays to travel to different countries for vacations, while keeping their annual leaves to visit their home countries. The engineer, who has been a UAE resident for the last 10 years, has travelled to the UK, US, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Turkey, thanks to the country’s generous official holidays.

“I plan ahead so that I get the cheapest possible airfares. For this trip to Europe, I had booked a flight to Vienna in September. I got it for as cheap as Dh600 per head,” said the Indian expat.

According to prevailing labour laws in the UAE, an employee is entitled to 30 calendar days of annual leave for each year of continuous service with the employer. However, if you include the official holidays, UAE residents will get 43 days of paid leave next year.

The UAE’s official holidays are announced weeks before the new year begins, giving residents ample time to plan.

In the year 2023, UAE residents will enjoy 13 days of public holidays. Some of the breaks would become longer as they come just before or after the Saturday-Sunday weekend.

Here is the break-up of official holidays next year:

  • Gregorian New Year: 1 January (one day)
  • Eid Al Fitr: Ramadan 29 to Shawwal 3 (four days)
  • Arafah day and Eid Al Adha: Dhul Hijjah 9 to 12 (four days)
  • Hijri New Year (Islamic New Year): July 21 (one day)
  • Prophet Muhammed's birthday: September 29 (one day)
  • National Day: December 2 and 3 (two days).

Long weekends

The Arafah Day and Eid Al Adha weekend is likely to be the longest official break next year. Subject to moon sighting, residents are likely to get off from Tuesday, June 27, to Friday, June 30. Factor in the Saturday-Sunday weekend, and you get a six-day break.

The holidays for Hijri New Year and Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) birthday fall on Fridays next year. So, each of those occasions would translate into three-day weekends.

Travel goals

Like Anzal, Sadick Omar, an Egyptian expat staying in Sharjah, plans his vacations during these breaks. Over the National Day break, he went to Belgrade, Serbia.

"I wanted to unwind as it was crazy work in my office over the last month. I took my family to Belgrade for three days. The weather was just perfect to spend quality time with my family,” said the Sharjah resident.

Anzal is already eyeing the longest break of next year — Eid Al Adha — for another trip to Europe. “I have almost all the major travel apps and I will be browsing them for the cheapest airfare.”