The present study is on the aerosol optical and radiative properties in the short-wave radiation and its climate implications at the arid city of Abu Dhabi (24.42 ∘N, 54.61 ∘E, 4.5 m MSL), in the United Arab Emirates. The direct aerosol radiative forcings (ARF) in the short-wave region at the top (TOA) and bottom of the atmosphere (BOA) are estimated using a hybrid approach, making use of discrete ordinate radiative transfer method in conjunction with the short-wave flux and spectral aerosol optical depth (AOD) measurements, over a period of 3 years (June 2012–July 2015), at Abu Dhabi located at the south-west coast of the Arabian Gulf. The inferred microphysical properties of aerosols at the measurement site indicate strong seasonal variations from the dominance of coarse mode mineral dust aerosols during spring (March–May) and summer (June–September), to the abundance of fine/accumulation mode aerosols mainly from combustion of fossil-fuel and bio-fuel during autumn (October–November) and winter (December–February) seasons. The monthly mean diurnally averaged ARF at the BOA (TOA) varies from −13.2 Wm−2 (∼−0.96 Wm−2) in November to −39.4 Wm−2 (−11.4 Wm−2) in August with higher magnitudes of the forcing values during spring/summer seasons and lower values during autumn/winter seasons. The atmospheric aerosol forcing varies from + 12.2 Wm−2 (November) to 28.2 Wm−2 (June) with higher values throughout the spring and summer seasons, suggesting the importance of mineral dust aerosols towards the solar dimming. Seasonally, highest values of the forcing efficiency at the surface are observed in spring (−85.0 ± 4.1 W m−2 τ −1) followed closely by winter (−79.2 ± 7.1 W m−2 τ −1) and the lowest values during autumn season (−54 ± 4.3 W m−2 τ −1). The study concludes with the variations of the atmospheric heating rates induced by the forcing. Highest heating rate is observed in June (0.39 K day −1) and the lowest in November (0.17 K day −1) and the temporal variability of this parameter is linearly associated with the aerosol absorption index.