The UAE is a Muslim country whose main religion is Islam. Once a year, believers observe a fast that lasts one month, which is called Ramadan. Due to the difference of 11 days in the Gregorian and Islamic calendars, the dates of fasting (Ramadan) are constantly changing. In 2023, the holy month starts on March 22 and ends on April 21.
First of all, Ramadan is a period for reflection and introspection. During the holy month, believers don't eat or drink during daylight hours and they spend their downtime praying. Eating before sunrise is called Suhoor, and the after sunset meal is called Iftar. A traditional evening meal is held with family and close friends throughout the month of Ramadan. Many restaurants serve buffets with traditional Arabic dishes, and after sunset charities arrange free buffets with food for everyone.
During Ramadan, the opening hours of entertainment venues, restaurants and cafes change. Many of them open after sunset and still have their establishments open until late at night or around the clock. Shops are open from 10:00 to 13:00 and from 18:30 to 23:00-24:00, while government agencies switch to reduced opening hours from 09:00 to 13:00.
Holidays in the UAE during Ramadan may have some restrictions for visiting guests and tourists. Restaurants inside hotels allow guests to eat during daylight hours, but outside of hotels, respect for fasting hours and general behaviour should be observed. Vacationers receive special information leaflets with detailed instructions about these rules. Discos and nightclubs are closed in the Emirates during the holy month, and Abu Dhabi bars exclude all alcoholic drinks from sale. Since 2021, screens in restaurants have been removed during daylight hours and many establishments will operate as usual in 2023. You will need to book a table in the restaurant you want to dine in well in advance, as there is a huge number of people who want to eat after sunset.
During Ramadan, prices for hotel accommodation fall and promotions and discounts are held in stores; sometimes reaching 85%. Shopping malls also organize competitions and draws for visitors.
If you have chosen the UAE for your holiday destination and it coincides with the Ramadan period, you need to follow certain rules of etiquette. Inappropriate behaviour can lead to problems with local law enforcements, lead to fines, arrest or even deportation. For guests of the Emirates during this holy month, it is recommended that you follow some important rules:
Visiting the UAE during Ramadan will allow you to immerse yourself in local culture and enjoy everything the country has to offer, if you follow the above rules. During the holy month of Ramadan, various cultural events, gastronomic buffets are held, and shops and malls are full of discounts and promotions. A visit to the UAE during this period will be an excellent opportunity to get acquainted with Islamic culture and centuries-old traditions.