When to go to Dubai

By Alex Ritman, your Dubai expert

I write for Dorling Kindersley, .... Read more

The best time to visit Dubai

With many people flocking to Dubai to soak up the rays - ideally from an immaculate beach or luxurious infinity pool - it's important to know when the sun is going to be at its most accommodating. But, unlike most tourist destinations, it's not about worrying if the sun's going to be there or not, it's avoiding it when it's at its most swelteringly powerful. 

Spring - gorgeous temperatures and great events

Between February and April, the mercury level will flitter around the high twenties in the day, dipping to the high teens at night. As such, you could happily spend your entire time in shorts and t-shirts (unless you were dining somewhere swanky). This is perfect beach temperature, and the better patches of sand do get rather crowded, especially at weekends, but never uncomfortably so. At peak tourist period, most hotels will be charging their top rates. But getting a room shouldn't be too much of a problem. See my Dubai hotels page to help you.

As the prime season to be outdoors, most of Dubai's best events take place around this time, including February's Dubai Tennis Championships www.barclaysdubaitennischampionships.com)  and the Dubai Desert Golf Classic (www.dubaidesertclassic.com), including various outdoor concerts and cultural events. The prestigious and highly lucrative horse race, the Dubai World Cup (www.dubaiworldcup.com), which takes place towards the end of March, usually marks the end of outdoor events until after summer. 

Summer - heading towards sweltering, but cheaper

By April and May, the temperature will start to rise towards the thirties, which is obviously absolutely fine for many of us out there. By June, however, we're venturing into rather unpleasant levels of sticky, humid heat and July and August can be somewhat unbearable, hitting the late forties at the peak. Much of this time is spent hurrying between air conditioned units and beach time is something only for those who can get up at the crack of dawn or the extremely brave. On the plus side, the sea is beautifully warm at this time. 

If you do find yourself heading to Dubai during the summer months, while your outdoor activities might be limited, many of the hotels offer excellent deals, either via reduced rates or free meals in restaurants. This usually occurs between late June and early September. See my Dubai hotels page for more information.

Autumn - cooling down, but still a bit hot for some

The temperature usually starts to drop around mid-September, when many Dubai folk begin to emerge from hibernation (or, most commonly, lengthy foreign jaunts). It's still rather sticky during the day, but perfect for a late afternoon beach trip. Al fresco dining is probably only advisable by October, unless you've got multiple fans pointing in your direction. 

Winter - outdoors again as great temperatures descend

By November, the heat is heading firmly back towards the 'lovely' setting, ideal for beaches, sand dunes and outdoor entertainment. Perhaps Dubai's most-loved sporting event, the Rugby Sevens (www.dubairugby7s.com), takes place in November and the growing Dubai International Film Festival (www.dubaifilmfest.com) is in December. 

We do often get about one or two days of rain, which is something you're unlikely to find in the brochures. This usually occurs early January, and often leads to some rather giant puddles (we're not so hot when it comes to drainage).

Come and experience Christmas in Dubai with crackers and sun-lotion on the beach, something you're unlikely to do very often. 

Ramadan

The Holy Month has a profound effect on daily life in Dubai so you should keep it in mind when booking your holiday. It usually lasts for 30 days, and during this time much of the city goes into hibernation. Even if you're not fasting, eating, drinking and smoking in public is strictly banned during daylight hours and many cafés or restaurants close during the day (or simply cover their windows up). Things come to life again around 7.30pm (although the exact timing varies depending on the moon), when restaurants reopen and alcohol can be sold. But, even at night, Ramadan isn't a period for revelry and visitors are expected to behave themselves. Muslims break their fast each day with an 'iftar' and many restaurants and hotels have special Ramadan tents serving these, usually in the form of vast buffets of Arabic food that are well worth checking out once or twice if you are in town (many are aimed at tourists). If you want to be traditional, you should first break the fast with a date, although nobody will hold you to that. 

2011's Ramadan is likely to take up late July and most of August. The dates move forward each year, usually by around two weeks, although it's never confirmed until just before.

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