Summer, June to September, can be oppressively hot, with humidity sometimes topping 90%. However, many still visit Dubai then, attracted by the dramatic reduction in room rates at many hotels and the Summer Surprises shopping festival where great value discounts can be had.
October to April sees the finest weather and is when most people visit Dubai, attracted by centigrade temperatures of early 20s – low 30s.
The Dubai Shopping Festival in January/February is a big pull, and hotels often hit peak capacity, so serious advance booking is necessary if you plan to visit Dubai then. During the winter months you can also catch the Dubai International Film Festival, Art Dubai, Rugby Sevens and other events that take advantage of the perfect outdoor temperatures.
Visiting Dubai during Ramadan
The holy month of Ramadan, during which Muslims fast from dawn till dusk, has a significant impact on the city. The actual date on the Gregorian calendar varies from year to year as it is determined by the Islamic lunar calendar. This means that the dates of Ramadan move forwards about 11 days every year. It is therefore wise to check beforehand when Ramadan occurs so that you can take this into account when planning your visit.
During Ramadan everyone who visits Dubai, regardless of their religion, should abide by the fast in public throughout their visit. Abstention includes not just eating and drinking, but smoking too. Bear in mind that food and even water can be hard to find during the day if your visit to Dubai coincides with Ramadan. However, most licensed restaurants will serve alcohol from 19:00.
Although Ramadan may be an unusual experience for non-Muslim visitors to Dubai, this is also a time when the local culture can be truly felt in the city. Iftar (the breaking of the fast) is an experience in itself. Festivities start with the breaking of the fast at sunset and can continue right through the night hours. Iftar tents open up every night during Ramadan for celebrations. Hotels in Dubai offer extravagant Iftar feasts during this time.
Anyone is welcome to share in the festivities and sample the local Middle Eastern delicacies and teas to the sound of Arabic music. You may even be lucky enough to stumble upon a live oud player and discover the mellow sound of Arabic tradition.