Sunday, 21 May 2017

Visiting Dubai during Ramadan

Ramadan will be here this week around the the 26th May until the 24th June. Dates vary around the world and are dependant on the sighting of the moon. As the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar it's date comes 11 days earlier each year. Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar.

During ramadan, Muslims do not eat, drink, smoke or have sex during sunrise to sunset. It is called fasting and is one of the 5 pillars of Islam, along with the declaration of faith, prayer, charity and Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. Fasting varies around the world between 10 and 21 hours each day.

The fasting is broken daily with Iftar, traditionally with dates and milk.

At the end of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr - festival of breaking the fast.

So what does this mean for Non Muslims, those who live here or visit during Ramadan?


  • Life is much slower and quieter, with reduced working hours and restrictions on working outdoors. It is also a cheaper time to visit the UAE with discounted hotel rates, especially when Ramadan falls in the summer, to encourage tourists to visit at this time of year. Many Non Muslims will actually leave Dubai during the summer as the heat can become unbearable.
  • All the malls are open during Ramadan, but you will find it difficult to get a taxi between 2pm and sunset as working hours are reduced, people are heading home to be with their families before breaking their fast. Restaurants will be very busy around sunset with people queuing for an hour or so for a table, so it's best to wait till around 8pm to eat out in the evenings.
  • Eating, drinking, chewing gum and smoking in public is forbidden during Ramadan. That includes in your car. But you can do all the above in the privacy of your own home and if you are a guest in a hotel, you will be able to eat and drink in the restaurants. Until last year, alcohol was banned from sale until 7pm, after Iftar, but now you can purchase it in hotel bars during the day.
  • There are many restaurants also open during the day, but check ahead. The majority of coffee shops are open, but only available for take outs, as a result queuing times to use public toilets will be longer as many non muslims will drink their coffee in a toilet cubicle.

  • The food halls in the malls will open from 12pm to serve food as usual, but they are screened off from public view, you can enter before 12pm but you will not be allowed to purchase or consume food before that time, including take aways.
  • Music is banned from public places, but that doesn't stop you from taking part in ladies nights and other events, although time tables and availability are limited from place to place, check with your hotel.
  • It is expected that you dress appropriately during Ramadan and many places will deny you access if you have bare shoulders or clothing above the knees. Carry a pashmina when you go out to avoid unwelcome looks.
Fasting during day light hours really does mean 'not even a sip of water' if you are ill, pregnant or elderly, you are exempt from fasting as are children. So if your child requires feeding, a drink, carry on as normal. All the supermarkets are open during the day to purchase food and drink from, you just can't consume it in public unless you fall into one of the categories mentioned above.

People in Dubai are very helpful and polite, so if you are unsure, just ask at your hotel and with security when you go out.


The terms Ramadan Mubarak or Ramadan Kareem mean generosity, giving and blessings. you will find the malls and shops highly decorated during this period and Eid is usually marked with fireworks and other celebrations.



















27 comments:

  1. I lived in Dubai for 6 years or more, and recently moved to the US. I can't say I miss Ramadan, but i have fond memories:)

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    1. it is nice to experience it, but during the winter would be so much easier

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  2. Having seen a few questions about this recently and whether people should visit, this is a really helpful post. THanks for linking up to #MondayEscapes

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    1. thank you, it's why it's so cheap to visit here in the summer, forget Ramadan, the heat on it's own is just too much

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  3. Wow - this is fascinating! And those temperatures! 57 degrees?!?? And no water?! Yikes!!

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    1. Jane, it's certainly something to experience

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  4. I'm a coffee addict but am not sure I'd contemplate drinking it in a toilet cubicle! #Mondayescapes

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    1. when you need coffee, you'll drink it anywhere

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  5. It would certainly take careful consideration to decide the visit during Ramadam, I am not sure it would suit us as a family, we loved Dubai when we visited but would prefer to visit outside there times, this is such a useful post, thanks so much for linking up #MondayEscapes x

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    1. I'd suggest tourists with young kids didn't visit here in the summer, regardless of whether it's Ramadan or not unless they can afford to spend a lot of money

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  6. Wow I didn't realize it's so restricted we are going for hubby's birthday the year after next with whole family good to know all these tips hun. Thanks. #mondayescapes

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    1. hope your trip is planned during the cooler months, October to March is the best time

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  7. This is such an apt post for the month. Cheers!! :) #MondayEscapes

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  8. Assalam-O-Alikum

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  9. This is a lovely read. I am drawn towards the infos. I think this is helpful especially if you are visiting Dubai! #pocolo

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    1. there are quite a few non muslims here who could do with a reminder, especially the way some people dress

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  10. This is so interesting to read. My youngest has been learning about Ramadan at school today and this will give us plenty to talk about :) #PoCoLo

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  11. I learnt so much from your posts on this last year and I'm still learning more. It isn't so strict back home because it is almost 50/50 of moslems and Christians , but of course when you are in an environment with most moslems you have to be a bit sensitive to that ...

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    1. I'd never noticed or really knew about Ramadan, other than school, until I moved to Dubai.

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  12. Having a couple of Muslim colleagues and several clients located in UAE and Saudi, it's always really interesting to hear about people's experiences of Ramadan. Thank you for sharing X #PoCoLo

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    1. you're welcome, it's easy to follow the rules, but you do have to keep reminding yourself not to drink and smoke

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  13. Wow, you really have first hand experience. I think I would be terrified of getting it wrong. We were in Turkey for one of the festivals a few years ago and I don't know how the staff coped during the heat of the day. It must have been Ramadan - assuming the dates move. Really interested to read this #PoCoLo

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    1. yes the dates move forward 11 days per year

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  14. Interesting to understand and know more about this festival, thanks for sharing with #PoCoLo

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    1. i really enjoy learning more and more each year

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