Answers to all your questions for Ramadan in Dubai 2018 – What can I wear during Ramadan in Dubai? Can I eat in public during Ramadan? Can I drink alcohol in Dubai during Ramadan? And lots more!
If you are lucky enough to spend Ramadan in Dubai you are in for a treat. It’s a very special time to visit; the days are quiet, there is less traffic, hotels are cheaper and businesses slow down. But after sunset the city comes alive and the malls and streets teem with Emirati families and Muslim expats coming out to eat iftar, the ‘breakfast’ evening meal.
As Ramadan moves closer to the peak tourist season (the winter months in the Northern Hemisphere), rules are being relaxed and Ramadan in Dubai can be enjoyed by all.
Ramadan in Dubai – Everything you need to know
- Many shopping malls and most hotels have curtained off areas where you can eat out of sight of those who are fasting
- If you’re out and about, carry a small bottle of water so you can find a discreet spot to take a drink
- It’s appreciated if you dress modestly during Ramadan – see this simple guide on what to wear in Dubai
- Dubai duty free is open 24 hours per day as usual throughout Ramadan
- Eating, drinking, chewing gum and smoking in public are not permitted between sunrise and sunset during Ramadan in Dubai
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the Muslim holy month, the ninth month of the year in the Islamic calendar. Muslims believe that the quran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed during this month. Ramadan is a time for fasting, reflection and charity. Fasting means abstaining from food, drink, smoking and having intimate relations between sunrise and sunset. Many Muslims will spend more time at the mosque or reading the quran during the holy month. It’s a time to step away from material pleasures and become closer to god.
When is Ramadan in Dubai?
In 2018, Ramadan is expected to begin on (or around) the evening of Wednesday 16th May and end on the evening of Thursday 16th June.
In 2019, the dates will be approximately 5th May till 4th June. Lunar months are shorter than the solar months used elsewhere, so Islamic holidays begin on different days each year, and Ramadan comes around eleven days earlier each year.
The exact dates depend on when the moon-sighting committee see a crescent moon to mark the start of Ramadan and a new crescent to signal the beginning of the next month and the end of the fasting period.
Can I eat in public during Ramadan in Dubai?
It’s not permitted to eat, drink, smoke or chew gum in public during Ramadan in Dubai – this includes public transport, private vehicles and taxis. However, most malls and hotels will have screened areas where non-Muslims can eat and drink out of sight of those who are fasting.
Restaurants and cafes outside of malls and hotels are usually closed during the fasting hours. Supermarkets and take outs are generally open as usual and you can eat and drink in the privacy of your hotel room if you wish.
At beach hotels you will barely notice any difference during Ramadan. City hotels may be a bit more restricted but you will still be able to eat.
To keep hydrated while you’re out and about it’s a good idea to carry a small bottle of water and find a discreet place to take a sip.
Drinking alcohol during Ramadan
Since 2016, the once strict rules governing drinking alcohol during Ramdan have been relaxed. Some hotels are allowed to sell alcohol during the daylight hours. As with other times of year, it’s illegal to display drunken behaviour in public. You can enjoy a drink or two but being obnoxious and loud is likely to land you in hot water.
What can I wear during Ramadan in Dubai?
This simple guide on What to Wear in Dubai not only provides general advice, but gives you some specific tips for Ramadan. Both men and women are expected to dress modestly to be respectful of the holy month. It’s not the time for skimpy, tight or revealing clothing. You can wear swimsuits/bikinis around the hotel pool or on beaches but, as always, you should cover up when walking to and from the pool or beach, even if it’s only through your hotel lobby.
Can children eat during Ramadan?
Young Muslim children are exempt from fasting; the religion requires them to begin fasting when they reach puberty. If you are visiting Dubai during Ramadan and have young children they are permitted to eat and drink but to be respectful, it’s best if they are discreet about it.
Can I do a desert safari during Ramadan?
Yes! Desert safaris run throughout Ramadan but for the standard dune bashing safaris the entertainment will be toned down. There probably won’t be any belly dancing but you can still get the thrill of a rollercoaster ride over the desert dunes.
For a more authentic, up market desert experience, look at Platinum Heritage. They’ll take you across the desert in 1950s vintage Landrovers and you’ll see wild oryx and gazelle before having dinner at their private camp. It’s a different experience to the standard safaris and one that embraces traditional Emirati culture.
Are nightclubs and pubs open during the holy month?
Some night clubs close, but pubs will remain open. There are no live acts and music, if any, is generally toned down
What about malls, can I shop during Ramadan in Dubai?
If you love to shop, you’ll love Ramadan! Dubai’s famous malls are quiet during the day but buzzing in the evening. A lot of malls stay open later in the evening, sometimes as late as 1am.
Dubai Duty Free
Dubai Duty Free never sleeps. It’s open 24 hours per day, 365 days a year. Alcohol in the emirate’s bars is heavily taxed and expensive. A good money-saving tip if you like a tipple is to stock up in duty free and enjoy a beverage or two in your hotel room. The duty free allowance is 4 litres of wine or spirits OR two packs of 24 cans (330ml) of beer per person 21 years old or above. Cheers!
Can non-Muslims attend iftars and sohours?
The belief is that the Prophet Mohammad ate three dates when he broke his fast. Nowadays, water, juice, milk, dates and fruit are traditionally eaten to break the fast.
Iftar is the ‘breakfast’ meal taken shortly after sunset; suhour is the last meal before fasting begins at sunrise and is taken during the night. Non-Muslims are very welcome to join in. Luxury hotels in Dubai hold lavish iftar buffets and often have iftar tents set up outside. It’s a good time to mingle with local Emirati families who are out together to break their fast. The best iftars get busy so be sure to book in advance.
What about charity during Ramadan?
Charity – zakat in Arabic – is one of the five pillars of Islam and an important part of Ramadan for Muslims who can afford to give to those less fortunate than themselves. Many mosques have outdoor iftars, given free to low-income workers, where you’ll see rows of men sitting on the ground around the mosque sharing meals .
As a visitor, you are welcome to get into the spirit of giving. One easy way to do this is to make up little iftar packages and give them to construction workers as sunset nears. A small bag containing water, juice, samosas, biscuits etc are ideal.
Ramadan is a great time to visit Dubai. Don’t forget to exchange Ramadan greetings while you are there, it will be appreciated. Ramadan Mubarak!