With just a day left for the holy month of Ramadan to begin, the Muslims across UAE are soaked in the festive mood. UAE is counted as the largest Islamic country with over nine million Muslims scattered in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman and other cities. Moreover, the country is also a hub of mixed culture where people from different nationalities reside for jobs, education or other reasons. So, if you are new in UAE and this is your first Ramadan in the UAE, we will give you a quick review of the things to keep in mind while observing Ramadan in UAE. The month-long affair begins from May 27, 2017, to May 28, 2017, which involves arduous fasting (Roza) process as per the 2017 UAE Ramadan calendar. During the holy Ramadan month, Muslims across the world observe fast abiding the complete month schedule of Sehri and Iftar timings. The last day of Ramadan is likely to be on June 24, and Eid Al Fitr will be on June 25, subject to moon sighting.
Before the beginning of the holy month, we have prepared a set of FAQs to keep you clear about the norms followed during the celebration in UAE.
What do you know about Ramadan?
Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic (Hijri) calendar. It is considered as the auspicious month for Muslims as during this month the Quran was revealed to Prophet Mohammed. As per the tradition, people observing the fast are not supposed to eat or drink after sunrise (Sehri). They can break the fast after sunset (iftar). Basically, the fast begins at the onset of morning prayer (Fajr) and eat before (Maghrib) prayer.
What is the objective behind observing Ramadan?
Ramadan marks a month of harmony where Muslim communities join in together to observe the fast and spend time in offering prayers to God (Allah). They visit Masjid for performing Tarawih prayers, seeking forgiveness for all the sins and freedom from hell in the afterlife. The purpose is to follow the path of salvation and let go of the materialistic attractions. There are also many social gatherings organized on the occasion where irrespective of the religious barrier, people from non-Muslim communities also congregate to enjoy the celebrations. Another prominent reason to observe Ramadan in the Muslim culture is to reach out to the poor in the society and help them by providing food and other necessary things.
What is iftar? What do Muslims traditionally eat during Ramadan?
Iftar is the time when Muslims break their fast after the sunset (Maghrib). It is believed that Prophet Mohammad would break his fast with a glass of water or date before praying, then consume a light meal. People observing the fast are advised to follow the similar pattern to refrain from overeating and uneasiness.
What is Suhour? What do Muslims do before the crack of Dawn?
Suhour is the time when Muslims again eat before dawn. At different places or hotels, suhour is offered where the people observing the fast stay up till late and eat or drink in the early hours. Technically the process must stop at imsak, 10 minutes before dawn (fajr).
What are the working hours during Ramadan?
The UAE government has shortened working hours for public and private sector employees during Ramadan. According to the Federal Authority for Government Human Resources, the working hours for the government employees will be from 9 am until 2 pm across the UAE. For private sector employees, work timings have been shortened by two hours.
Can visitors, tourists or non-Muslim residents buy alcohol or go to clubs or pubs during Ramadan?
Some clear changes can be found in the operation of night clubs or pubs. Most of the nightclubs remain shut for Ramadan while some bars and pub stay open but loud music are strictly prohibited during the holy month. Moreover, the bars will serve alcohol after sunset.
Other Ramadan rules and regulations:
Am I allowed to eat, drink or smoke in public during fasting hours?
No one is allowed to eat anything during the fasting hours including non-Islamic people. The non-Muslims can only eat, drink or smoke in private. Even at the workstation, they need to consume food at a private room allotted by the company, which has to be at a safe distance from those fasting to avoid distraction.
Can people eat, drink or smoke in the car?
Yes, people can but only of the interior of the car is in dark hue and not visible from outside. You need to be very careful because if you are seen eating in the car, that would be considered as a crime.
If children are exempt from fasting, can they eat in public?
Yes, they can. There is no prohibition for children over this.
Can people kiss on cheeks or hug their partner or friends of the opposite sex in public during Ramadan?
People are advised to avoid any act of demonstration of affection in public during Ramadan as it might be considered as offensive.
Do I need to be careful about what I wear during Ramadan?
Both men and women should wear simple clothes during Ramadan without any exposure of body including cleavage, shoulders or knees. They should be careful about what they wear in this period. Swimwear is only acceptable at public beaches, beach parks and hotel pools, which will all be open as usual.
Should I refrain from cracking jokes or making pranks during Ramadan?
Casual jokes are of course acceptable. But, one need to ensure that he/she shouldn't use any bad or offensive words, not even in the form of a joke.
What happens if I forget it’s Ramadan and I accidentally eat or drink in public?
It’s not the end of the world, just try not to do it again and hope nobody was offended. Ramadan is also about practicing patience so people are usually pretty forgiving about mistakes.
What are the prayer timings for Ramadan in the UAE?
The prayer timings of Abu Dhabi and Dubai are different. Here on our blog, we have posted the Ramadan 2017 UAE calendar. You can check out here Ramadan Timing 2017 Dubai, UAE, calendar and timetable of Ramadan 2017.