The shops go into full retail mode with sales and fantastic deals on offer to everyone. There are Iftars (breaking fast) meals, social events and gatherings. And the end of Ramadan Eid al Fitr is marked with fireworks and celebrations.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic year, in which strict fasting is observed from dawn to sunset. In 2018 Ramadan starts 16/17th May. Our first Ramadan in Dubai, in 2015 was in the middle of June. On average it is 11 days earlier each year and whilst this is an approximate date, final confirmation isn't until the new moon is sighted.
If we're still here in a few years, Ramadan will be in winter, day light hours shorter and not as hot. It's the heat I struggle with the most and not being able to drink water if I'm out in public, although as a non muslim I can carry on eating and drinking as normal. I have actually been asked If I'm actually allowed to eat and drink during this month.
However there are some restrictions placed upon me in public during daylight hours whilst I go about my everyday activites in Dubai, during Ramadan and these include:
- No eating
- No drinking (not even water)
- No chewing gum
- No smoking
I can still do the above in the privacy of my own home, my garden as it's fenced off and on our balcony.
However if I'm out it's a bit more of a struggle. You won't find anywhere to smoke during the day, unless you sit in your car, surrounded by sun screens. Although not recommend when the car temps reach 57c.
Food halls and some cafes are open, but finding out who is and who isn't and who is available for take away only and opening times is a different matter altogether.
Every year I find more and more places open for non muslims during Ramadan. However opening hours change, with places opening later in the day and staying open later at night. Little is advertised on the websites. But if you're in Dubai on holiday during Ramadan, then your hotel restaurant will operate as normal. However you may find alcohol is restricted during day light hours in Ramadan.
Everyone is exceptionally friendly here in Dubai during Ramadan and they will allow for mistakes. You'll be politely asked not to eat or drink in the malls, outside of restricted areas which are clearly labelled and with a list of the rules.
Muslims who are ill, elderly, pregnant, breastfeeding etc are exempt from fasting and you will see muslims in non muslim areas feeding their children during the day.