Improving microclimate can be a critical consideration when designing urban places, especially in hot arid climates, due to its relation to improving human comfort in outdoor places, mitigating urban heat island effect and reducing indoors air conditioning demand. This study set out to investigate the impact of urban design strategies on microclimate, specifically canyon ratio, orientation, vegetation shading and wind speed using the case study of Al Ain City in the UAE. Simulations using Grasshopper with OpenStudio, EnergyPlus and Radiance plugins were carried out, and the Universal Thermal Climate Index (UTCI) was employed. Larger canyon ratios (1–2) and North-South street orientation were found to produce more comfortable urban places. While shading surfaces were found to have the potential to reduce UTCI by 5°C. Moreover, creating wind passages on the ground floor of the urban area was found to significantly enhance wind circulation in the scheme, reducing UTCI. This study can serve as an input for urban planning decision-making as well as provide guidance for urban designers in hot arid climates.