Ramadan is the name of the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. It comes after Shaban, and is followed by the month of Shawwal.
Ramadan is considered as the holiest month in the Islam calendar because Muslims believe that the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammed during the month of Ramadan, on the night of Laylat al Qadr, one of the last ten nights of Ramadan.
Ramadan in Dubai – guidelines
“Ramadan Mubarak” (in arabic “رمضان مبارك”) and “Ramadan Kareem” (in arabic “رمضان كريم”) are congratulatory greetings used when the first day of Ramadan is announced (kareem means generous and mubarak means blessings). Suhoor is the meal in the morning just before the sun rises. Iftar is the time of the evening meal right after sunset.
During the month of Ramadan, practicing Muslims should follow several precepts:
- No eating
- No drinking
- No smoking
- No sex
- Refrain from greed – envy – lust and gossip
- Be charitable and help those in need
- Visit friends and family members
- Keep thoughts and actions pure
- Use the time of fasting for spiritual contemplation
Those who are exempted from fasting:
- Children (under 12 years old)
- The elderly
- The insane
- Pregnant or nursing women
- Sick people
- Those who are fighting in battle
- Women during menstruation
Instead of doing so, they could feed or help poor people each day during Ramadan, or in the case of temporary conditions, make up the days by fasting at a later date.
Advice for non-muslim tourists and expats
It is illegal to eat, drink or smoke in public or even chewing gum during daylight hours (including in your car). If caught, a urban legend says that you’ll end up in jail for the rest of the month of Ramadan, however it is more likely that you’ll get a lecture from the police and possibly a fine depending on the mood. The law says a fine up to AED 2000 / AED 2500 or up to 1 or 2 months jail sentence.
If you have hungry children, they are permitted to eat during the day, but it would be sensible to be discreet about it.
It is advised to dress more conservatively during Ramadan in Dubai – shoulders and legs should be covered. Although when walking around in some shopping malls in Dubai, you can still see skirts, skinny tops and other apparent bras.
Car stereos should be turned down – loud music is considered as disrespectful.
Bars in Dubai are still open during Ramadan, they even offer special deals here and there (to be checked on timeout.com).
Work hours during Ramadan
Despite this, many companies have their employees work regular hours during Ramadan, especially non-Muslim workers in the private sector.