Are you visiting the UAE during Ramadan? Find out what you can and can’t do from sunrise to sunset, and how and where to experience the very best of the Holy month.
What to wear
Ramadan lasts until the evening of June 4, and during this time it’s important to be respectful to Muslim customs and traditions. So, do dress conservatively, as it’s more important than ever during Ramadan to keep your knees and shoulders covered in public places, and to wear loose clothing.
Throughout the holy month, greet Muslims with Ramadan Kareem; it’s then courteous to say Eid Mubarak during the three-day Eid celebration at the end of Ramadan.
Eating and drinking
During Ramadan you can’t drink, eat and smoke in public places – which includes offices, malls, lifts and cars – unless you are in a designated area that is serving food and drink to non-Muslims. Also, it’s respectful to not eat and drink in front of any Muslim friends and work colleagues.
However, if you’re staying in a hotel in the UAE, you can eat and drink during daylight hours as normal; for example, breakfast, lunch and drinks are served all day long at the Premier Inn Abu Dhabi International Airport Hotel and Premier Inn Dubai International Airport Hotel.
If you’re visiting the UAE for a business trip, remember that office hours are likely to change, whether you’re Muslim or not. The morning rush hour can occur slightly later from 7am to 9am and there will be a much earlier ‘evening’ rush hour as people leave work around 3pm.
Please stay patient as people who are fasting at work may be less productive than usual and tired, especially by the end of the day.
Enjoy an iftar
Experience the breaking of the fast by booking a table for iftar at one of Dubai and Abu Dhabi’s many. Dine at a local restaurant to enjoy a traditional spread of Arabic dishes, smoke some shisha and listen to the entertainment by oud players – all in the traditional setting of a Ramadan tent.
Enter into the spirit of giving by donating food, clothes, money or your time to individuals and charity. Muslims are expected to give Zakat to those in need during Ramadan. Also, always bring dates and gifts for your host if you are invited for an iftar during your stay.
Experience the local culture
Learn about the UAE’s customs in the traditional setting of the Sheikh Mohammed Centre of Cultural Understanding in Dubai’s Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood. You can enjoy an immersive Ramadan iftar experience, followed by local desserts and an open Q&A session or have a guided tour of Jumeirah Mosque.
You can’t sing, dance or play loud music whether in public or in your car as live gigs and music are banned during Ramadan. However, if you’re a night owl then you will love this month for its early hour suhoors (a pre-dawn meal) and late-night opening hours at the shopping malls.
A top tip is not to drive or catch a taxi at sunset if possible as this is when the UAE’s roads are busy with motorists, tired and hungry, who are trying to get home to break their fast.