One of the things that makes the UAE such a popular destination all year round is its climate. It has a hot desert climate on the Koppen climate classification, which means that it is very dry and arid with plenty of sunshine and high temperatures.
Summer Temperatures in the UAE
In the summer, average temperatures in Dubai can climb to 34.4°C (94°F). Some days the temperature reaches well over 50°C ( 122°F), particularly in the steep sided wadis and mountains where the sun is retained and reflected by the rocks.
Although it is far too hot to enjoy outdoor pursuits in the summer, Dubai in particular has plenty of indoor activities for visitors. As well as air-conditioned malls and shopping centres it even has its own indoor ski resort, Ski Dubai, which is part of the Mall of the Emirates.
The 85-metre-high ice mountain has five ski slopes along with a Snow Play area for snowballing and tobogganing. You can even interact with penguins – a truly surreal experience in this hot desert area!
Sunny Winters in the UAE
The UAE resorts really come into their own in winter when north Europeans are looking for a sunny escape from the rain and snow. From December to March, daytime high temperatures in Dubai average a very pleasant 24-28°C (75-82°F). Temperatures drop quickly in the desert after sunset, and average overnight lows are 14.3 to 17.6°C (57-63°F).
Days are long in the Middle East, even in winter. In December, they get around 10½ hours of daylight (ie. sunshine) in the UAE compared to less than 8 hours of daylight in the UK, which is invariably cloudy and gloomy during the winter season.
Rainfall in the UAE
Rainfall in the UAE is minimal with an average annual total of just 93.8mm (3.7 inches) per year. Most of this falls in February with no rainfall at all from May to November. The sparse rainfall occurs on 3-5 days per month, with average monthly precipitation of between 16 and 25mm (0.6 to 1.0 inches), so no need to pack anything more than an umbrella for a possible light shower.
Although this rainfall is a comparatively small amount, when it falls in the mountains it rushes down the rocky ravines and dry wadis and causes flash floods. These quickly dissipate, but drivers need to be aware of the dangers when exploring the desert.
The low rainfall in the UAE means that humidity levels also remain low, at around 53-65% all year round.
Best Time to Visit the UAE
The best months to visit the UAE climate-wise are between October and May, when the climate is very pleasant, dry and sunny. Although the days are warm and sunny, temperatures drop at dusk and it can be cool at night.
The autumn, winter and spring seasons are the perfect time to plan outdoor activities such as desert hiking in the Hajar Mountains and jeep safaris to ancient wadi villages and oases. However, as mentioned above, light showers may occasionally produce flash flooding which sweeps down the dry riverbeds of the wadis without warning, so care needs to be taken.
For shopping, desert adventure, beach holidays and watersports, the UAE consistently delivers sunny days and mild nights making it a great tourist destination at almost any time of year.