10 Things Expats in Dubai Experience During the Christmas Holidays

Who says Christmas isn't about enjoying the beach? | ©Fabio Achilli/ Flickr
Who says Christmas isn't about enjoying the beach? | ©Fabio Achilli/ Flickr | Flickr
Photo of Jessica Harn
27 October 2017

Although Dubai is international enough to have plenty of holiday-related activities and lunches to go to during the winter, it still doesn’t feel the same driving down Sheikh Zayed Road with the hot desert air in your face as you listen to Christmas songs. While you may miss a wintery Christmas there are some surprisingly good things about experiencing the holidays in Dubai — so here are the top 10 things expats experience while in Dubai during Christmas:

Decorating your home with extra Christmas flair to compensate for the lack of snow outside

From covering doors and windows with fake snow to blinding the neighbors with Christmas lights, the lack of winter and snow outside will be compensated with extra holiday cheer inside the house. This does make for a really festive atmosphere for inviting guests or friends over for the holidays!

Getting the kids to help with Christmas in Dubai | Flickr

Forcing yourself to enjoy a hot cup of cocoa during a blistering hot evening in Dubai (because its Christmas, no matter what the temperature says)

Nothing says the Christmas holidays like the perfect cup of hot cocoa… even if you end up overheating while drinking it because of the desert heat of Dubai. Most expats who celebrate Christmas in Dubai would rather sweat it out a little than give up enjoying cocoa in the evenings (although most of us have given up the idea of trying to cozy up next to the fireplace).

Seeing all the beautiful Christmas trees in the malls

While some cities around the world get a little too crazy with the Christmas decorations, the city of Dubai doesn’t have that many around the city. That being said however, there are truly beautiful Christmas tree decorations in the malls and in hotels that are an exciting surprise that everyone can truly appreciate.

Extravagant Christmas tree in Atlantis the Palm | Flickr

Blasting Christmas songs in the car while hiking up the AC to pretend it is winter

You either love them or you hate them — but almost all of us in Dubai have blasted out Christmas songs in the car on the way to work to get in the holiday spirit. Turning up the AC to feel a little “winter” chill while you listen to the music is also something we’ve all probably secretly done.

Going to the beach for Christmas (and its surprisingly really nice)

Because most of us can’t keep pretending we’re in a winter fantasy-land, most expats will eventually head to Dubai’s beautiful beaches during the Christmas holidays, and truly enjoy it! Basking in the hot sun while cooling off in the clear waters of the sea; this is something truly unique and special for the holiday season.

Winter weather in Dubai is a perfect Christmas getaway | Flickr

Feeling a little bit smug when friends are jealous of your “tropical Christmas”

For those stuck in dreary cold cities for winter, seeing others enjoying Christmas in a tropical heaven can seem like they are on the perfect vacation. Homesickness feels a little bit better when most of our friends back home are jealous of our sunny pictures on the beach in December.

Going Christmas gift shopping has never been more fun

Dubai really is a shopping dream — the biggest mall in the world is in downtown Dubai and is a perfect location for Christmas shopping. From every single brand-name shop to unique boutique stores, from delicious international chocolatiers to local sweets and dates; you’ll have a hard time choosing what to get for Christmas gifts!

Half of Dubai seems to be built just for shopping! | Flickr

Enjoying the wide variety of churches for Christmas Eve and Day

Although the UAE is an Islamic country Dubai does have numerous churches for almost every single Christian denomination. From Russian Orthodox Churches to the international Baptist Church, from a glorious Catholic Church in downtown Dubai to the gospel singing Winners Chapel; there is a place of worship for everyone to celebrate Christmas.

Getting pleasantly surprised at all the Christmas-related activities in Dubai

For those who expect absolutely no Christmas fun after moving to the Arabian Peninsula, most are pleasantly surprised at all the Christmas fun one can actually have in Dubai. From visiting the Dubai Opera for holiday orchestras to playing in the snow at Ski Dubai, there is indeed plenty to do for those who want to have a festive holiday.

Ski Dubai in the Mall of the Emirates | Flickr

Learning about the diverse Christmas traditions from around the world

With so many expats from all over the world living in one place, it is exciting to learn about the diverse array of different Christmas traditions and Christian denominations. With some Christians even celebrating Christmas in January, you’ll be able to attend different churches, services, and celebrations and enjoy an even longer Christmas season!

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