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Is Dubai a year-round destination for family holidays? If you’ve heard rumours of unbearably high temperatures in July and August, they aren’t exaggerated. And it’s true the city tends to slow down significantly during Ramadan (15 May to 14 June 2018). But does that mean you’re stuck with high season super-rates, and hiked air fares?
Of course not. With direct UK flights now coming in at under seven hours, and resorts finally realising a bit of flexibility makes sense, Dubai’s becoming increasingly viable for a week, or even less. Which means shorter holidays are doable any time, and plenty good fun, even in the hottest or quietest months. Half-term breaks are well within reach too, and winter-sun seekers can sneak in some heat without extreme expense, if they know when to go.
Here’s a quick guide to getting the best out of Dubai on a family holiday, any time of year.
Dubai starts to cool quite rapidly from September onwards. By the time November arrives, temperatures are about 25˚: still warm beach weather, and fine for watersports and swimming in the sea.
Dubai doesn’t celebrate Christmas, but you wouldn’t know it. Expect acres of lights, glamorous shopping, extravagant trees, family events and entertainment, penguins out in full force at Ski Dubai, and carols piped through the malls. December and January are cool for Dubai, with temperatures average about 22˚ in January: a bit chilly for the sea, and just right for resort pools.
The Dubai Desert Classic golf tournament is held every February, and temperatures are nice and beachy at 25˚, and rising. Unsurprisingly, it’s also the busiest and most expensive month of the year for family holidays.
It really starts to heat up in Dubai come March, with daily averages of 32˚ pretty much the norm. This is optimum beach weather, fantastic for watersports, and days are getting longer, so go exploring the city in the morning or late afternoon for fewer crowds.
Summer doesn’t officially kick off in Dubai until May, but with air temperatures of 35˚, and the sea at a very comfortable 25˚, it feels as if it’s already arrived in April. A good month to visit with teens for good value late season watersports lessons, the International Children’s Film Festival, and Middle East Comic Con at Dubai World Trade Centre.
You don’t need to be told it’s summer in May, the weather is hot, sunny, and the city’s starting to feel humid. With average temperatures of 37˚, spending an entire day on the beach with kids is more like an endurance test than fun. Try early mornings on the sand, and take advantage of fewer crowds to try out Dubai’s aircon-rich indoor attractions during the hottest part of the day.
Dubai doesn’t close down during Ramadan, and most of the major resorts are business as usual. But the city is quieter during the day. It’s a different story after sunset, when everywhere comes to life with night markets, feasting tents, and cultural events. So a few days here during the festival can be an incredible experience, especially for teens. Hotel prices are also at their lowest, and poolside is where you want to be during the day anyway, with temperatures pushing 37˚.
Spend more than a few minutes outdoors during the day in July and August and you’ll feel the full force of the desert heat. The air’s about 40˚, the sea isn’t much cooler, and it’s humid everywhere. But Dubai is well adapted to its hot summers, so there’s plenty to do indoors – even the city’s immense malls are packed with kids activities, play zones, family events, and entertainment.
Resorts are significantly less expensive, and offer excellent deals like free child places, full-board for half-board, free upgrades, on top of low room rates. Plus, they make it their mission to keep guests as cool and comfortable as possible, indoors and out.
Temperatures start to drop a little in September, and by October, Dubai is a very bearable 30˚, and the great outdoors is open for adventure.
Prices are still reasonable, winter sun-seekers haven’t descended yet, and it’s a good time for desert safaris, hiking in the mountains, cultural tours, and camel trekking. There’s great birdlife around Al Qudra Lakes, and flocks of flamingo are starting to show off for winter at Ras Al Khor Wildlife Reserve in the city centre.