UAE residents are able to take up to three vacations in a year, thanks to the country’s annual leave policy and additional official occasion-driven holidays. In addition to the 30-day annual leaves employees can avail in a year, this year, they get at least 13 days off.

Four of these holidays result in long weekends, with the longest break being a nine-day vacation for Eid Al Fitr, which just ended. In a couple of months, they will receive another five-day break for Eid Al Adha.

Residents Khaleej Times spoke to said they plan their vacations strategically, utilising their annual leave to travel to their home countries and long weekends for a quick getaway or a staycation.

Rawan Lutfi, a Syrian expat, shared her approach to vacation planning. She splits her annual leave, spending a portion visiting her husband's home country, Lebanon, and the remaining time exploring new destinations. As for short breaks, she enjoys staycations, especially during short public holidays combined with weekends.

“I have particularly enjoyed exploring nearby destinations during short official holidays, like beach resorts or cultural landmarks within the UAE,” she told Khaleej Times.

Mixing vacations

Rend Alsaigh, a Sudanese pharmacist, likes to mix up her vacations. During short Eid breaks, she visits her brother studying in Georgia, combining family time with exploring a foreign country. "Usually during Eid, it’s difficult for my younger brother in Georgia to join us for Eid, so instead of him spending it alone I fly to him,” said Rend.

As for her annual leave, she tries to align it with the short breaks maximizing her time as she travel to her brother again then to Egypt, where the rest of her extended family resides. Once she returns to the UAE, she takes the opportunity to rest and rejuvenate before resuming her regular routine.

Aligning holidays

As far as planning goes, some residents are making the most of official holidays for travel while reserving their annual leave for personal relaxation. Sharifa Al Sharyani, an Emirati from Dubai, prefers her official holidays for travel, particularly choosing Europe as her preferred destination during these breaks.

As for her annual leaves, as she always tries to choose them when she feels herself in need of a break from work, she said, "For my annual leave, I can control the timing, so I mostly rest at home. I use the time to recharge and rest and take care of my family."

Same as Fatima Al Jallaf, an Emirati mother, prioritizes her annual leave to align with her children's school holidays to spend quality time with them either at home or traveling. Regarding official holidays, she remarked, "During official holidays we always prefer to spend them at home."

Demand for summer and short breaks

Raheesh Babu, COO of, noted that there is an equal demand for both summer holidays and official holidays.

“Summer trips, often taken during annual leaves, are popular for visiting family and returning to home countries. Most bookings are made for destinations in India and the sub-continent, with the US and Europe following closely behind.

Short breaks see a significant increase in departures, too. The executive expects air travel demand to soar for the Eid Al Fitr break as the festival falls just before the summer vacation.

He highlighted several factors that influence travel decisions for short breaks. “Price is the key deciding factor followed by how many days of leave people can get and also another deciding factor is how quickly they can get a visa to their destination,” added Raheesh. “These considerations play a crucial role in travelers' choices for their short getaways.”

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