As the month of Ramadan quickly approaches, we’ve put together this guide for those who want to know more about what Ramadan is like in Dubai and the wider United Arab Emirates. Perhaps this is your first Ramadan here or you’re visiting as a tourist, perhaps you have been away in the summer for previous years or maybe you’d just like to learn more. This article is for you!

This year Ramadan falls still within the school calendar so we expect that many businesses will be operating as normal despite the reduced hours during this month. In recent years, the Dubai government have encouraged operations to continue as normal.


What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims. In this month, they fast by not eating any food or drinking water during daylight hours. The date is determined by the cycle of the moon. Ramadan is the ninth month of the lunar Islamic calendar, and it officially begins the morning after the crescent moon is visible to the naked eye. While many focus on the food aspect, it is also a time where they perform acts such as avoiding behavior like gossiping or arguing. They take time to contemplate and bring themselves closer to Allah. Finally, it is a time where they provide food for the less fortunate, do good deeds and give charity.


Wait, but what if I want to eat or drink? in the day?

Don’t worry! These days many restaurants remain open but put up boards so that the eating isn’t visible for those who are fasting. If you’re working, typically the office will have a designated eating area and some restaurants won’t open until just before sunset. These restaurants remain open until the early hours of the morning during Ramadan, so if you’re a night owl you’ll love being able to eat with your friends in loads of places till the early hours.


Is there anything else I should do?

Particularly in this month, you should respect the rules and cultures of the UAE. It is better to dress more conservatively, not play loud music in your car and to not eat in your car either. You can be fined for eating in public, so just be a little more careful about what you do during daylight hours.


What are all these words? Iftar? Maghrib?

Okay so for Ramadan you’ll maybe hear a few words that you haven’t heard used before.

Iftar – This is the first meal where Muslims break their fast. Many restaurants and Mosques put up huge tents for people to break their fast together. Typically restaurants do a huge buffet with lots of different selections of foods, so it’s great for all the foodies and often very reasonable compared with your typical hotel buffet.

Suhoor – This is the meal before they start their fast, like a very early breakfast. Usually done at home with the family however you will find restaurants open for suhoor.

Maghrib – This is the prayer that is performed at sunset and marks when Muslims are able to eat again. So if you hear someone saying, “I’m counting down till Maghrib,” now you know why!

Fajr – You probably won’t hear this one as much but this is the first prayer as sunrise starts and this marks when Muslims need to start their fast again.

Ramadan Mubarak – This means Happy Ramadan and is a typical greeting people use to each other during this month. You can just reply “Ramadan Mubarak” back.


I’m a tourist, will everything be closed?

These days, most places are operating as normal. Office-based businesses and government offices will close a few hours earlier. Some restaurants will be open with boards and others won’t open till the evening. There are lots of festivities and huge iftars so it’s a great time to experience Dubai’s culture. Many places are open much later, so if you want a nice lie in and want to explore Dubai in the night time. Ramadan can actually be pretty awesome as a tourist!


These insights are from our feature blogger Danni B.