Ramadan is the holiest time for Muslims living in the region - here are our tips for expats
24 March 2019| Last updated on 11 April 2021
The Holy Month of Ramadan occurs annually and lasts 30 days. It is the holiest time for Muslims in the UAE and region, and the month offers a great opportunity for non-Muslims and expats living here to immerse themselves in the traditions, culture, and cuisine of the country.
There's a lot of don'ts for everybody to follow during the Holy Month, and yes, life may alter for expats living here. So, to help get you orientated with the rules of Ramadan, here are our top 10 tips for expats during the Holy Month of Ramadan in Dubai and UAE.
PLEASE NOTE: For Ramadan 2021, some of the information listed below may not be applicable due to Covid-19 restrictions. Our guide is intended to show what would normally happen during Ramadan in Dubai and the UAE. For a complete guide to Ramadan 2021 during the pandemic, click here.
1. Learn some Ramadan greetings
Embrace the Holy Month and make an effort to learn simple Ramadan greetings that you can say to your Muslim friends and colleagues. "Ramadan Kareem", which means have a happy/generous Ramadan. "Ramadan Mubarak" translates as blessed Ramadan, and "Siyam Kareem" means blessed fasting.
2. Don't eat, drink, smoke or chew gum in public
During the Holy Month, Muslims must refrain from consuming food, drinking liquids and smoking during daylight hours. These rules apply to non-Muslims and expats living here, too. As an expat, do not eat, drink or smoke in public during the day - or else risk offending someone, or worse, get in trouble with the police.
3. Refrain from playing loud music
This includes in your home, at the beach, or even in your own home and back garden. Yes, you can play music, but be sure that nobody else can hear it outside of your car or home. If you're heading out, use headphones - but again, ensure the volume is lower enough that those around you can't hear your music blasting.
4. Avoid revealing or tight clothing
The UAE has a modest dress code, which is particularly enforced during the Holy Month. Residents and visitors should wear modest clothing - even if you're heading out for a night. We have a guide on what to wear during Ramadan here for you.
5. Take note of your working hours
As per the UAE Labour Law, working hours should be shorter during the Holy Month. Employers must honour these laws and MUST reduce their working hours by two hours per day - regardless of whether employees are Muslim or non-Muslim.
We have a complete guide on working hours during Ramadan for you here.
6. Avoid driving at sunset where possible
At sunset, roads tend to be filled with drivers who are rushing home to break their fast at Iftar. Be mindful and patient while driving during Ramadan, as things can get a little hazardous, so extra caution is advised at all times.
7. Make reservations for dinner and Iftar
Throughout the Holy Month, there's always a lot of activity come post-sunset. From Iftar gatherings to friends heading to the mall, or families heading out for quality time together. As a result, restaurants tend to be crowded so we advise booking in advance.
To help you find the best iftar dinners in Dubai this year, click here!
8. Join in the community spirit
Even if you're non-Muslim, the Holy Month offers a great time to get involved with culture and the community. Interact with friends, colleagues and your neighbours - find your nearest Ramadan Fridge for example, and join in practicing the values of tolerance, compassion, gratitude and charity.
9. Give to the poor and help the needy
Known as 'zakat' and 'sadaqah', charity and charitable acts are 1 of the 4 main common observances for Muslims during Ramadan. This after all, is the true spirit of Ramadan and small gestures can go a long way. Join in and contribute to charitable causes happening throughout the month.
10. Try fasting for a day yourself
Sit there and wonder how your colleagues and friends are able to go a full day without eating and drinking? Try it for yourself. We're sure it will enlighten you to the strength of those who fast during this holy time and give you a new-found appreciation for the fasters around you.