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Ramadan in Dubai 2024

Material updated: 4.03.2024

Ramadan is one of the most significant periods in Muslim culture. It lasts one month and is accompanied by fasting and prayers. This period affects the lives of both local residents and expats – the opening hours of shopping and entertainment venues, as well as government agencies are reduced, and certain restrictions on eating and drinking in public places are being introduced. Next, we will look at special aspects of Ramadan in the UAE and what rules are to be observed during this special month.

About Ramadan

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim lunar calendar, during which believers are required to fast. During this period, Muslims should refrain from eating and drinking, smoking and intimacy during the daytime. After sunset, the fast is interrupted and starts again at dawn.

  • Suhoor is a pre-dawn meal to keep oneself in good health during the day of fasting, which is followed by Al Fajr, the morning prayer.
  • Iftar (breaking fast at sunset) – the first and main meal after sunset. Traditionally, it includes water and dates. After Iftar, believers should perform Al Maghrib, the evening prayer.

During the last 10 days of Ramadan, believers pray most earnestly. Many Muslims want to follow the example of the Prophet Muhammad and retire to the mosque for all 10 days.

The duration of Ramadan is 29-30 days. Its beginning and end are determined according to the Islamic lunar calendar, which does not coincide with the Gregorian one. Every year, the day of the beginning of the holy month is shifted by 11 days. The exact date must be confirmed by the moon sighting committee.

How Ramadan is Held in the UAE

In 2024, the month of Ramadan in the UAE will start after sunrise on March 11, according to Ibrahim Al Jarwan, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Emirates Astronomy Society, a member of the Arab Union for Astronomy and Space Sciences (AUASS). The month of fasting is expected to end on April 9, however the precise date will still be announced by the moon sighting committee.

It is believed that it was during this period that the Prophet Mohammed began to comprehend Islam. Tourists and expats who are UAE residents are responsible for ensuring that believers are able to fast. Foreigners do not have to adhere to all Ramadan requirements, but they must show respect for local traditions.

According to the article 331 paragraph A of the UAE Criminal Code, public consumption of food, drinks, smoking or other actions that violate the fast of Ramadan are punishable by a fine of up to AED 1,000 (USD 272) or arrest for up to 30 days. Balconies and cars in the parking lot are equated to public places as well. Chewing gum and listening to music loudly in public is also considered unacceptable.

The requirements for fasting in Ramadan do not apply to children under 6 years of age. Children aged 7–12 can fast for limited periods of time. In the UAE, children who have reached the age of 12 are required to comply with all the rules of Ramadan on an equal basis with adults.

The following groups of individuals are exempt from fasting:

  • pregnant and lactating women;
  • women during menstruation;
  • diabetics;
  • the seriously ill;
  • elderly people;
  • travelers.

In addition to all of the above, expats also have to meet the standards of appearance. Adults should be dressed neatly and conservatively. Legs and arms should be covered. Appearance in public places in swimsuits, tight or low-cut clothing is prohibited. Adults in public have to behave with restraint and avoid kissing, hugging, and shaking hands in public. Ramadan is a time of peace and repentance, so try to avoid harsh words and gestures.

Every day, fasting is interrupted by iftar and evening prayer. Since 1960, the cannon firing has been used to notify believers about the coming of Iftar. For these purposes, five cannons have been installed in Dubai. They are to be found in the Burj Khalifa, Atlantis The Palm and Al Habbai Mosque, among other locations. In Abu Dhabi, cannon firing is also used to call for evening prayer. The cannons are installed at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

How Urban Infrastructure Works and What Rules Should be Followed

In accordance with Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 on the regulation of labor relations, the working hours of all representatives of the private sector during this period will be reduced by two hours. Banks and government agencies will operate during the holy month from 09:00 to 14:00, but some banks will stay open until 15:00.

School days in local educational establishments will start later and end earlier. As a rule, the end of the school day occurs no later than 18:00. The exact opening hours are set by each school on an individual basis. Working time for playrooms and kindergartens can also be reduced.

Opening hours of stores may vary considerably. They are usually open from 10:00 to 13:00 and from 18:30 to 0:00. This trend does not apply to large supermarkets and shopping centers, many of them are open 24/7.

Over the past two years, the rules for conducting Ramadan for foreigners have noticeably relaxed. Contrary to expectations, some catering establishments remain open during the day and are ready to receive foreigners. While two years ago the owners had to obtain the appropriate license and screen the windows, now these requirements have been abolished. According to a circular from the Dubai Economic Development Department of April 11, 2021, restaurants in the emirate do not have to screen dining areas.

Similar changes were made to Abu Dhabi. On April 6, 2021, the Emirate’s Department of Culture and Tourism authorized tourism and hospitality establishments to provide catering services to foreigners during Ramadan without installation of screens and partitions. All the rules and restrictions described above do not apply to closed resorts. They continue their work as usual.

After the onset of Iftar, the number of people wishing to get to cafes and restaurants increases significantly, so it is advisable to book places in advance. Also at this time there is high traffic, which can result in roadblocks.

During Iftar, many restaurants and hotels organize grand buffets and dining tents. For example, in Dubai, such buffets are set in Atlantis, Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Al Bustan Rotana, Anantara Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa, The Palm, Crowne Plaza Dubai Festival City and Four Points by Sheraton every year.

The exact time of the onset of Iftar varies depending on the specific city. It always happens at sunset. Iftar is open to both Muslims and tourists. It is important to ensure that fasting Muslims start the evening meal first.

The sale of alcohol in city bars starts only after Iftar. If you are in a closed resort, you can buy it during the day. But it is considered unacceptable to appear on the street in a state of alcohol intoxication.

Be prepared for the fact that mosques that are open to foreigners may be closed for visits during Ramadan or work on an abridged program. The opening hours of beaches and parks often remain unchanged. As for tourist attractions, they switch to half-days with a long break in the middle of the day.

The holy month ends with the celebration called Eid al-Fitr, which is a public holiday in the UAE and lasts three days. During this period, Muslims prepare feast meals, visit relatives, and present gifts. An integral part of the celebration is charity and helping those in need. During Eid al-Fitr, all government departments are closed for a period of three to seven days.

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