Is Dubai dusty and what is Dubai air quality really like?

by Danni B

Have you ever looked at a picture of Dubai and thought to yourself, wow that place looks like one giant sand dune? Dubai is certainly no stranger to dust.

Plus it’s a sizeable city with many buildings and vehicles, so like any modern city you may be wondering what is the air quality really like. I first moved to Dubai in 2013 and have experienced all of the Dubai weather you can imagine! So I’ll explain what it’s REALLY like living in a desert-like Dubai!

Make sure you read until the end so you can learn how Dubai, despite its weather and air quality, the location surprisingly helped me with a health condition!

Is Dubai dusty? Summary

Yes, Dubai can be dusty during a sandstorm or windy weather however for most of the year, Dubai is an enjoyable warm country. Perfect to enjoy the outdoors, whether you’re at the beach or the terrace of your favourite restaurant.

How did a desert become a popular tourist destination?

The history of Dubai sure is interesting! One of the reasons Dubai focused on tourism earlier than its Gulf counterparts is due to its lack of finding oil or gas, which was much smaller than Abu Dhabi. Rather than letting this hinder them! Dubai’s Sheikh at the time, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum took the money from oil and invested it into making Dubai a trade and tourism hub.

At the time, people really questioned what Sheikh Rashid Al Maktoum was doing, Dubai was a small place known mostly for pearl diving but he had a huge vision for its future. Something which Dubai carries the spirit of to this day! While still holding onto their bedouin and Emirati roots.

With this vision in mind and keeping trade at its core. Dubai became what it is today and the largest trading hub in the GCC. Dubai was the intermediary for receiving imports and sending exports for all the very newly wealthy Gulf countries. Showing the business acumen Sheikh Rashid Al Maktoum had, securing a wealthy future for both his descendants and the Emirati people. One which Emiratis are extremely proud of.

This wealth has been reinvested into the country, not only in infrastructure, schooling and housing but also in luxury megaprojects that have attracted attention from abroad and ultimately grew Dubai to be the tourism hub that it is today.

Desert climate and air quality

The desert climate in Dubai is no joke, temperatures can soar to over 50 degrees Celsius! Resulting in an unbearable and stuffy atmosphere known as the urban heat island effect. This phenomenon is caused by paved surfaces absorbing more heat which then radiates and escapes into the air, resulting in fewer breaks from the sweltering weather.

The unfortunate side-effect of this heat build-up? Poor air quality. Typically the air quality does get worse during summer and you will find wealthy residents tend to not only escape the heat during this time but go to places like Europe where the air quality is better over the summer.

During the wintertime, the air quality does change during winter time and fluctuates generally over the year. As you can see from the image below of the concentration of particles in the air. Green is the lowest and the purples/reds mean higher concentrations of particles.

However, despite the larger concentrations of particles likely caused by the desert, rates of asthma are lower overall in the Middle East compared to Europe and America.

Data taken from

How frequent are sandstorms in Dubai?

Dubai sandstorms more frequently occur during the summer and during winter it is rare to experience a sandstorm as you need very dry weather for the sand to be lifted up and travel far distances into the city. The rate of sandstorms overall are low per year, where a few days may be affected but can be months until you experience another one.

How to avoid inhaling dust and protect yourself from sandstorms

There are a few main ways to keep yourself protected:

  • Avoid going outside when there are sandstorms or high pollution days
  • Keep windows closed during sandstorms and high pollution days
  • Use an app or check on websites like Accu Weather to check air quality
  • Buy an air purifier to purify indoor air
  • Wear a mask on days you need to go outside if a low air quality day
  • Shower when returning home on a low air quality day

Sandstorms can be a real headache – and not just if they blow sand in your eyes! With all the tiny particles floating in the air, dealing with dust and sandblasts can affect your health. Fortunately, there are some tried-and-true methods to protect yourself and manage the effects of sandstorms.

Air purifiers are a great investment as they help reduce indoor air pollution by trapping particulate matter but also help with allergies by trapping dust, pollens, and other allergens before they build up in your home.

If you experience difficulty breathing while in Dubai

Thankfully Dubai has many hospitals and Doctors available locally, so if for any reason you do experience any difficulty breathing while on vacation or where you live there. You can easily access medical care to help as employers must provide private medical insurance.

If you’re visiting, make sure you have valid travel insurance just in case!

If you are asthmatic or have other breathing issues, then it’s best to take any medical supplies with you and do some research on which hospitals are close to your accommodation. Should you need any medical services. It also may be best to avoid activities like Dune Bashing where sand may aggravate your condition.

Don’t let the dust put you off from visiting or living in Dubai

I’ve been in Dubai for almost a decade, I don’t suffer from asthma or have any medical conditions due to the dust. In the UK, I actually used to suffer very badly from hay fever and in Dubai, my hay fever has been greatly reduced thankfully! So for me, Dubai has been great for improving my life in this regard.

Visiting Dubai can be a mesmerizing experience, as it is a captivating place with lots to see and do. The blend of extravagance and old-world charm make it a must-visit for voyagers seeking somewhere out of the ordinary. Dubai is definitely a unique experience whether you’ve visiting or choosing to live there.

Want to learn more about Dubai and the UAE? Read our other helpful articles below

How to easily get a sim card in Dubai as a tourist or new resident
What is the water gun next to the toilet? Learn about the shatafa and how to use it
What plug type in Dubai and the UAE do I need? Plus voltages and travel tips

What is life in Dubai like? 29 things to know before you visit or move
Getting around Dubai, full guide to the hop on and hop off tour bus in Dubai


So, is Dubai dusty? The amount of dust in the air depends on a number of factors, including the season and whether or not there has been a recent sandstorm. However, even in the best conditions, the air quality in Dubai can be poor due to the desert landscape and lack of greenery. Sandstorms most occur during summer and the air quality is typically better during winter. So if it’s possible for you, this is when it’s better to visit Dubai! Dubai is a modern city with good hospitals, so if you did ever find yourself in trouble, be sure medical help is always close by!

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