National Holidays

Important dates in the Islamic calendar

Important dates in the Islamic calendar are the Prophet’s ascension ( Al Isr’a Wal Mairaj) and the Prophet’s birthday ( Maulid Al-Nabi), the start of Ramadan and the two ‘festival’ ( eid) holidays, Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha, which are observed as holidays in all the Gulf states except Saudi Arabia, where the two Eid holidays are the only official holidays, although some of the others might be observed by private institutions.

National Holidays

Eid Al-Adha normally lasts two or three days and Eid Al-Fitr four or five days, except in Saudi Arabia, where each holiday usually lasts around a week. However, there’s generally a difference between the duration of holidays in the public and private sectors, government workers generally enjoying longer breaks than those in private enterprise (some things are the same in the Gulf as in the west!). Another holiday called Ashura, which commemorates the death in battle of the Prophet’s grandson, Imam Husain, is observed in Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the UAE.

Islamic holidays are determined by lunar sightings but, whereas some Muslim countries use information derived from observatories, unaided observations are preferred in Bahrain, which makes exact dates difficult to predict, as the moon may be obscured by cloud, for example. There’s also a complicated conversion to be made from the Islamic to the Gregorian calendar. The only way to be sure that a holiday has begun is to hear the gun that’s traditionally fired on such occasions, to hear an announcement on the local radio or to wake to hear less than usual traffic noise!

Holiday

Date (Islamic calendar)

Approx. Date (Gregorian Calendar)

Eid Al-Adha

10 Dhul-Hijah

Jan - Feb

Muslim New Year

1 Muharram

Feb - March

Ashura

10 Muharram

Feb - March

Prophet’s birthday

12 Rabi II

April - May

Prophet’s ascension

27 Rajab

September

Ramadan

1 Ramadan

October

Eid Al-Fitr

1 Shawaal

November

New Year’s Day

 

1st January

National Day/Independence Day

 

16th December

 

Note that a National ‘Day’ usually lasts two or three days!

Eid Al-Adha normally lasts two or three days and Eid Al-Fitr four or five days, except in Saudi Arabia, where each holiday usually lasts around a week. However, there’s generally a difference between the duration of holidays in the public and private sectors, government workers generally enjoying longer breaks than those in private enterprise (some things are the same in the Gulf as in the west!). Another holiday called Ashura, which commemorates the death in battle of the Prophet’s grandson, Imam Husain, is observed in Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the UAE.

Islamic holidays are determined by lunar sightings but, whereas some Muslim countries use information derived from observatories, unaided observations are preferred in Bahrain, which makes exact dates difficult to predict, as the moon may be obscured by cloud, for example. There’s also a complicated conversion to be made from the Islamic to the Gregorian calendar. The only way to be sure that a holiday has begun is to hear the gun that’s traditionally fired on such occasions, to hear an announcement on the local radio or to wake to hear less than usual traffic noise!

Holiday

Date (Islamic calendar)

Approx. Date (Gregorian Calendar)

Eid Al-Adha

10 Dhul-Hijah

Jan - Feb

Muslim New Year

1 Muharram

Feb - March

Ashura

10 Muharram

Feb - March

Prophet’s birthday

12 Rabi II

April - May

Prophet’s ascension

27 Rajab

September

Ramadan

1 Ramadan

October

Eid Al-Fitr

1 Shawaal

November

New Year’s Day

 

1st January

National Day/Independence Day

 

16th December

 

Note that a National ‘Day’ usually lasts two or three days!

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