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  • Writer's pictureJenny Hunt

Business in Abu Dhabi at Christmas

4th December 2017, Updated 9th December 2018

As the festive season creeps up on us, how is a business affected in Abu Dhabi and Dubai? To be honest, it's business as usual. The UAE is an Islamic country, so Christmas is not a celebrated holiday. However, the UAE promotes a culture of tolerance and inclusiveness, so you will find Christmas decorations, Christmas parties, Christmas gifts and Christmas food everywhere if you wish to celebrate. New Year is celebrated. 1st January is a public holiday.

Christmas Closure?

Whilst it is common for companies across Europe and other parts of the world to close during the Christmas and New Year period, in Abu Dhabi and Dubai businesses remain open. It is common for expats to start leaving for their home countries from mid-December. This means companies can end up operating with a skeletal staff structure for a few weeks. Most companies will continue to operate on 25th December, but smaller, foreign-owned companies are likely to close for the day. Gateway Group chooses to close on Christmas Day and we give all our staff the day off as an extra days holiday. For companies which don't close, employees wanting to take the day off will need to apply for it as part of their annual leave.

Office Christmas Parties and Cards

Yes, these do happen in some companies. Many hotels offer special office party packages. It's not uncommon for offices to put up some festive decorations too. It is acceptable to give cards and gifts to employees and business connections, although Ramadan and Eid tend to be much more opulent given that the UAE is an Islamic country.


As it would be expected, the malls are busy during the festive period. Shops will be decorated and have sections for Christmas displays and goodies. Due to expats starting their holidays from mid-December, Christmas items often sell out early. Restaurants and coffee shops will add festive drinks and dishes on their menus. It's a great time for retail operators.

Business set up in Abu Dhabi and Dubai over Christmas & New Year

As government departments and businesses remain open, only closing for New Year's Day, there shouldn't be any delays in the setting up of a new business at this time of year. It is arguably likely to be quicker as so many expats will have gone overseas there will be fewer documents processing through the various government departments. So if the deadline for your business set up in Abu Dhabi or Dubai is by year-end, get started now.


In my experience of living and working in the UAE, which is a melting pot of over 200 nationalities, most people are curious about each other's customs and holidays. It is a great way to welcome everyone to join the celebrations, traditions, stories and to share hospitality.

Gateway Group will be closed on 25th December. We send best wishes to everyone who is celebrating and we wish all a prosperous New Year with excellent business in 2019.

Gateway Group's Christmas & New Year Opening Hours

Christmas Eve, 24th December: 8:30am - 12 noon

Christmas Day, 25th December: CLOSED

26th December - 30th December: 9am - 4pm

New Year's Eve, 31st December: 9am - 2pm

New Year's Day, 1st January 2019: CLOSED

2nd January 2019 and onwards: 8:30am - 5:30pm

How Gateway Group can help your company to setup over the festive period

Gateway Group are experts in company formation. We use our on the ground knowledge and experience, as well as our large network of connections to help companies with their UAE market entry. We have a proven track record of speedy, hassle free business setups for government entities, royal family, multinationals and SMEs. To find out how Gateway can help your business to expand to Abu Dhabi or Dubai over the festive period, email us:

Written by Jenny Hunt, Founding Partner & CEO

Gateway Group of Companies, Abu Dhabi and Dubai UAE


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