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Updated November 2023

Diwali is probably one of the most awaited festivals for Hindus. The festival is considered the celebration of the triumph of good over evil, marking the return of Lord Rama to his Kingdom of Ayodhya.

Expats and residents in UAE can look forward to various events and celebrations of Diwali in the Emirates. Here is all you need to know about the celebration of the Festival of Lights in the UAE.

Diwali dates and calendar

The date of the festival varies every year as per the Lunar calendar. This year, Diwali will be celebrated on 12 November 2023. Although it’s not an official holiday in the UAE, the celebration of Diwali is very popular among residents.

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Diwali celebrations in the UAE

The Diwali celebrations in the UAE share a lot of similarities with those of the rest of the world, albeit with some minor differences. Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists also celebrate the festival of lights.

The preparations begin with a tradition of cleaning every house corner one week before the festival. People start renovating their homes, discarding useless items, and purchasing new items like kitchen appliances, electronics, clothes, vehicles, etc.

The first day of Diwali is known as “Dhanteras”. Dhanteras is considered an auspicious day for buying special utensils in brass, silver, or gold. It’s a sacred day to shop for decorations, lights, sweets, and everyday items. Markets are bustling, sweet shops are busy, and people buy gifts for loved ones. The top places to visit for Diwali shopping are The Dubai Mall, Wafi Mall, Deira City Centre, Mall of the Emirates, and Bur Dubai Souk.

Earthen oil lamps are lit for the next five days and are meant to remove the darkness and dispel evil. The second day is also referred to as ‘Chhoti Diwali.’ A variety of Indian sweets and gifts are exchanged among friends and family.

The third day or the ‘Main Diwali’, is when most of the festivities take place. People wear their best outfits and offer their prayers to Lord Ganesh and Goddess Laxmi, the Hindu Gods of wealth and protection. Fireworks light up the sky, and people indulge in parties and special events like singing, dancing and card games.

Decorations like rangolis (an art form using colored sand, flowers, or other materials) are also popular ways to celebrate Diwali. The fourth day is primarily ceremonial, with many celebrations indicating the end of the harvest season.

The Diwali festivities end with the celebration of Bhai Dooj on the fifth day. This occasion celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters, with the performance of rituals and exchanging of gifts.

Dubai Diwali celebrations and grand prizes

Dubai is celebrating Diwali, the festival of lights, with a variety of offers and prizes for shoppers and visitors from October 18 to November 10. From jewellery to cash, gold to vouchers, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Some of the highlights include a chance to win up to AED 150,000 in shopping vouchers when buying jewellery at participating outlets from October 18 to November 2, a raffle draw with 100 cash prizes worth AED 200,000 by Idealz on November 25, a digital raffle with 20 gold prizes worth AED 100,000 by spending AED 200 or more at participating shopping malls until November 2, and a daily lucky draw with a gold coin prize by spending AED300 or more at City Centre Deira until November 10.

Additionally, there are many cultural and entertainment activities to experience at various locations across the city, such as a light show on Burj Khalifa on November 4 at 8 pm and firework displays on October 18, November 4, and November 14. More events featuring Bollywood artists and performers are expected to be announced as Diwali draws closer.

Shopping for gold

The tradition of buying and gifting gold during the Diwali season is not a new concept. Popular jewellery stores across UAE offer eye-catching discounts and promotions to their customers on their latest collections.

Shoppers purchase gold as part of the festival’s tradition and benefit from considerable savings of around 30 to 75 per cent.

Places to visit in Dubai during Diwali

Al Mankool: This place in Dubai consists of a large number of ex-pats. Every year during the Diwali festival, one can see a beautiful display of streets adorned with sparkling lights.

Bur Dubai: A famous Souq area for shopping and fireworks display during Diwali. The other places famous for Diwali shopping in Dubai are the Dubai Mall, Wafi Mall, Deira City Centre, Mall of Emirates and Al Seef’s Diwali Mela.

Burj Khalifa: The tallest skyscraper in the world puts up a show of lights and sound to send out a heartwarming Diwali message to the audience.

Dubai Creek: Thousands of people flock here with friends and family for a mind-blowing display of fireworks. This place also happens to be the only area where fireworks are allowed in the city during Diwali.

Bollywood Parks Dubai: This place airs various shows and famous Bollywood movies along with concert performances by favourite artists.

The Pointe at Palm Jumeirah: hosts an array of grand fireworks displays for onlookers.

Dubai Festival Mall: For everyone who visits the region, a special performance is planned that will feature a complex display of laser, fire, water, and other projections.

Hiton Yas Island: at Capila Pool Bar & Grill, cultural events, scrumptious food, and a stunning light show will be there and an animated 3D projection and a grandiose firework extravaganza at Yas Bay will be shown for the onlookers.


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