Ramadan in Dubai

Understand the significance of Ramadan in the UAE: find out about the cultural and religious implications for Muslims and non-Muslims, and understand the rules regarding appropriate attire, working hours, and eating and drinking during Ramadan...

The Holy Month of Ramadan, or the Month of Fasting, is one of the five Acts of Worship in Islam.  It is a time for spiritual growth through self-control, discipline, and patience; an exercise in controlling desires and increasing good works in the hope of forming a new balance in life that lasts far beyond the month of Ramadan itself.

To the average observer, Ramadan seems to be more about “not eating and drinking” than anything else. For Muslims, the act of abstaining from food and drink during daylight hours is the core of worship, but certainly not the only spiritual act carried out at this time.

Self-reflection, controlling bad habits and abstaining from  food and water help Muslims to appreciate and value such indispensable gifts.  It teaches Muslims to not be wasteful, to “eat to live, not live to eat.”  The Prophet Mohammed, PBUH, said about eating and drinking, “One third of your stomach is for food, one third for drink, and leave one third empty so it can do its work.”  During daylight hours, Muslims also abstain from sexual relations with their spouse to teach mutual appreciation and to reinforce the value of companionship within the family.

Abstaining from  bad words and deeds, such as arrogance, vanity, gossiping and backstabbing, swearing and disrespect are integral to the fasting process.

In effect, abstinence during the month of Ramadan is an exercise to enhance the character from the inside out. Charitable works, including looking after the poor, are emphasized, as well as increasing prayers, particularly at night.

Eating During Ramadan

In a city with more than 230 nationalities, cultures and religions, Ramadan may feel like a time when the city sleeps during the day and becomes alive at night. While most restaurants are closed during the day, malls, supermarkets, and most establishments maintain daytime opening hours with extended evening hours.  Those that continue serving food and drink during the day will often have the area screened off from public view out of respect for those fasting.

Eating openly in public could result in a fine or a trip down to the police station, so common sense applies. If you are in your car and need a drink, be discreet.

Is anyone exempt from fasting?

Not all Muslims fast during Ramadan and this also applies to non-Muslims. The following are exempt from fasting:

  • Young children
  • The elderly and feeble
  • Pregnant and nursing mothers
  • People travelling
  • Those with chronic illnesses that prevent them from fasting

Ramadan is a time to capitalise on the kindness of people.  Join Muslims for an Iftar, the meal eaten in the evening when Muslims break their fast – an authentic one, rather than in a restaurant or at a resort. Visit a Muslim work colleague or friend for a home Iftar, or join a tent or masjid Iftar (feeding the poor by handing out juice boxes, or fruit such as oranges and bananas).

It’s about everyone coming together, whether they are fasting or not, in an effort to improve relationships within the community.

  • To find out about Iftars and other Ramadan events taking place in Dubai, check the listings in the [ailink]http://dubai.angloinfo.com/information/whatsontoday.asp=What’s On|http://dubai.angloinfo.com/information/whatsontoday.asp=What’s On[/ailink]

Working During Ramadan

Employers follow the guidelines set up by the Federal Government and public and private sector companies are required to shorten working hours during Ramadan. This applies to all employees, not just Muslims.

Working hours will often change during Ramadan, omitting the lunch break and finishing the working day in the early afternoon.

Dress Code During Ramadan

Modesty in dress is emphasized during Ramadan and everyone should maintain the same standards that are usually requested in malls and public places.  Shoulders should be covered for men and women, as well as keeping shorts or skirts to below the knee.

Given the heightened spirituality during the Holy Month of Ramadan, the focus is on showing the utmost humanity, respect and tolerance towards one another.

Information provided by the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding House 26, Al Mussallah Road Bastakiya, Bur Dubai Dubai, United Arab Emirates T: (+971) 4 353 6666 / F: (+971) 4 353 6661 e-mail Website