Holidays in Saudi Arabia
The Saudi interpretation of Islam views all non-Muslim holidays as smacking of idolatry, and the public observance of Christmas, New Years, Valentine's Day, Halloween etc is prohibited. Public holidays are granted only for Eid ul-Fitr, the feast at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, Eid al-Adha, commemorating Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son, some 70 days after Ramadan.
There is also one secular holiday: Unification of the Kingdom Day, on September 23rd. Strictly speaking, it's not a public holiday or a festival, but it's treated rather like one anyway.
During Ramadan itself, visitors are required to abide by the restrictions of the fasting month, at least in public: no eating, drinking or smoking during the daylight hours. Some better hotels will be able to quietly supply room service during the day, but otherwise you'll have to do your preparations. All restaurants in the Kingdom are closed during the day, and while some offices stay open with limited hours, the pace of business slows down to a torpor. After evening prayer, though, all the restaurants in the bazaar open up and do a roaring trade until the small hours of the morning. Most of the shops are open as well, and the cool of the evening makes it a pleasant time to shop. A visitor can have a fine time joining in on these evenings, though having a stash in your hotel room for a quiet breakfast around ten will suit most visitors better than rising at four for a big pre-dawn Saudi breakfast.
- 2011 (1432): Aug 1 - Aug 29
- 2012 (1433): Jul 20 - Aug 18
- 2013 (1434): Jul 9 - Aug 7
The festival of Eid ul-Fitr is held after the end of Ramadan and may last several days. Exact dates depend on astronomical observations and may vary from country to country.
The Most Frequently Asked Travel Questions about Saudi Arabia