Ramadan Do’s and Don’ts
There’s no doubt that for non-Muslim expats life in Dubai changes during Ramadan, but it’s equally true that this annual observance provides a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in the traditional culture and cuisine of our fair Emirate. Tolerant though it is, Ramadan serves as healthy reminder that Dubai remains a predominantly Muslim city. As such, it is vital to understand the rules of public conduct during the Holy Month. Here are some essential do’s and don’ts to steer you in the right direction. But remember, Muslim or not, all can appreciate the overarching themes this month, that of of tolerance, compassion, gratitude and above all charity.
• Don’t dance, sing or be intoxicated in public at any time. Most major nightclubs will close for Ramadan. Bars and pubs will generally remain open but will only serve alcohol after dark. Similarly, liquor stores will only sell after dark. There is also no live music and nothing above quiet background music in bars and pubs.
• Don’t play loud music at any time in your car, on the beach or even at home. You can play music; just make sure it can’t be heard outside your car or home and use headphones on the beach.
• Don’t wear revealing or tight fitting clothes in public, modesty is key during Ramadan. This includes when you are heading for a night out.
• Don’t smoke, drink, chew gum or eat in public during the hours of sunrise to sunset. This includes while you are driving as well as public places such as malls, cinemas or offices.
• Don’t swear in public. Blasphemy is frowned upon at the best of times, but during the Holy Month of Ramadan it’s particularly offensive.
• Do say “Ramadan Kareem” to your Muslim friends and colleagues.
• Do smoke, drink and eat in the privacy of your home, hotel room or office. If you work in a shared or open plan office simply designate a room where the door can be closed. The point here is to be respectful to those colleagues that are fasting.
• Do be aware that office hours will change which will in turn affect traffic patterns. Peak traffic will occur earlier than normal, 7am – 9am and 1pm – 3pm. An additional rush hour occurs at 8pm – midnight.
• Do avoid driving close to sunset. It can be hazardous during this time as the roads fill with people rushing to break the fast at Iftar celebrations. Remember many drivers will not have had anything to eat or drink all day so exercise caution.
• Do dress conservatively. Avoid going to public places like shopping centers and parks wearing shorts, mini-skirts or sleeveless outfits. This law is applicable all year round, but during Ramadan sensitivities are heightened.
• Do make reservations for dinner. Most of the cities shopping malls and public places will become hives of activity after sunset lasting until late at night. This also means that restaurants and hotels will be crowded so if you plan to eat out book ahead.
• Do give to the poor and help the needy. Ramadan is renown for its charitable nature. You don’t have to spend the earth – small gestures go a long way.
• Do make the most of the community spirit and sumptuous food to be found in the Iftar tents at the city’s hotels. It’s a great opportunity to relax, play games and experience some traditional Arabic cuisine and entertainment.
If you’re yet to experience a cultural Iftar at SMCCU then do yourself a favour. Fantastic if you’re new to Dubai or have family or friends visiting.