What’s On has a guide to Ramadan in Dubai, including Ramadan hours, rules of Ramadan, advice for non-Muslims in Ramadan, and where to go during Ramadan.
DO… make the most of the community spirit. Say ‘Ramadan Kareem’ to friends and colleagues, introduce yourself to those neighbours you’ve always meant to say hi to, organise an after-work iftar, and catch up with friends and family.
DO… become a night owl. Everything happens later during Ramadan. Malls are open past midnight and suhoors go into the early hours. Embrace the late nights and discover a side to the UAE you may not have seen before.
DO… your bit for a good cause. Ramadan is a good time to put your money where your mouth is. The UAE has a wide range of charitable and volunteering organisations.
DON’T… forget the rules. If you’re not a Muslim, you’re still expected to be respectful. It’s frowned upon to dress inappropriately, eat, drink or smoke during daylight, play loud music or swear in public. At the very least these things are frowned upon, and at worst you may find yourself in trouble with the police or fined.
DON’T… lose your patience. Working hours are likely to be shorter (and perhaps a little less productive), those who are fasting tend to be tired, and the UAE’s roads will be busier.
DON’T… miss it. Lots of expats tend to head out of town during Ramadan, but it’s one of the most vibrant times to live in the UAE. What better time to get involved in the local culture?
Do… visit the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding , which is hosting cultural iftars for Dhs135. Located in the beautiful Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood near the Creek, it’s a unique opportunity to break the fast with Emirati locals, who will explain the UAE’s customs during the holy month. cultures.ae
YOUR RAMADAN QUESTIONS ANSWERED…
What makes Ramadan so important for Muslims? The ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Ramadan is also the most holy. It marks the time when the Qur’an was first revealed to the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), and is a time for prayer and reflection, to cleanse past sins and to focus on Allah through good deeds. Extra ‘tarawih’ prayers are performed at the mosque throughout Ramadan – each evening, one-thirtieth of the Qur’an is recited, so by the end of the holy month, observers have read the entire Qur’an.
Why do Muslims fast during the month? Fasting, or ‘sawm’, loosely translates as ‘to refrain’. During Ramadan, Muslims are required to abstain from eating, drinking or smoking between the hours of sunrise and sunset. But sawm isn’t just about physical restraint; it also refers to bad thoughts, actions and words. It’s often assumed that fasting is about deprivation, but in Islam, the fast is intended to help Muslims learn about self-discipline and restraint, and to enable them to empathise with those who have less.
Does everyone have to fast? Non-Muslims are not required to fast. However, they are required to behave sensitively throughout Ramadan, which means no eating, drinking or smoking in public during daylight hours. For Muslims, everyone is required to fast, but there are exceptions. Young children, pregnant women and the elderly and infirm are not required to fast due to possible health complications. Women on their monthly cycle do not fast, likewise people who are travelling or suffering from illness. If there is a temporary break in the fast, Muslims are required to make up the missing days after Ramadan.
Do I need to do anything differently during the day? As well as the fast, it is important for everyone to dress and behave appropriately during the Holy month. Clothes should be modest, covering shoulders, chest and knees. Keep music levels down to a minimum when you’re driving and, of course, no public displays of affection.
How can non-Muslims get involved? Everyone can join in the spirit of Ramadan. Visit an iftar, take part in a Ramadan charity drive, sign up for a mosque tour (both the Jumeirah Mosque in Dubai and the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi offer fascinating and informative tours throughout Ramadan).