Ramadan 2012 – Do’s and Dont’s in the UAE

Ramadan is coming up in the next few days … its expected to start on the 20th July this year … its also going to be particularly tough as well due to the timing as it’s fallen in the peak summer months … Anyway I was looking into some sources about ramadan and how it affects daily life in the UAE … Now I know about ramadan, what it is, what it stands for, all of that side of things … but not having lived in an islamic country before I wasn’t completely aware of how the rules would be enforced here … After having done some research I thought I’d pull together what I’ve found out here in a little blog post … some of you who live in Dubai/UAE may find this useful … for others you may just find this interesting …

First things first … the general rules for Muslims who fast are:

  1. No eating, drinking or smoking between sunrise (fajr) and sunset (maghrib)
  2. Curb undesirable emotions such as anger, greed, envy, lust, and refrain from gossip.
  3. Keep thoughts and actions pure and use the time of fasting for spiritual contemplation.
  4. Be charitable and help those in need.
  5. Visit friends and family members.

Generally Children under the age of 12, the elderly, menstruating women, pregnant or nursing woman and those who are sick are exempt from fasting. They should instead endeavour to feed one poor person each day or if it is a temporary condition (such as illness) make up the days at a later date.

Some of the rules that are specific to Dubai and the UAE in general include:

  • It is illegal to eat, drink or smoke in public during daylight hours (including in your car). Urban legend has it that you end up in jail for the remainder of the month of Ramadan if caught, however it is more likely that you’ll get a lecture from the police and possibly a fine of up to 2000 dhs.
  • Sharjah is likely to have harsher penalties for the above offences.
  • If you have hungry children, they are permitted to eat during the day but it would be sensible to be discreet about it. If you’re desperate for food or drink for them, get a snack at a supermarket or service station.
  • It is respectful and polite to dress more conservatively during Ramadan – shoulders and legs should be covered, although it is apparent when walking around some of the shopping malls in Dubai that many people either don’t know or don’t bother. Also if the Police get involved and it is believed you have not been dressed appropriately you can be fined up to 2000 dhs or face a jail sentence, so best to just be respectful.
  • Bars in Dubai are generally still open but customers might be asked what religion they are and refused entry if they are Muslim. Live and loud music is banned, so is dancing, so most nightclubs in Dubai will be closed or very quiet. Bars in Abu Dhabi might be closed. Bars in Ras Al Khaimah usually stay open. Bars in Sharjah don’t exist.
  • Any alcohol related offences will probably be treated much more severely than outside the month of Ramadan – it is quite possible an offender is stuck in prison until the end of Ramadan – or so I’ve read, I can’t verify if this has actually happened before.
  • Car stereos should be turned down – loud music, especially rock or similar music, is disrespectful.
  • Traffic times change – the morning is not much different but afternoons from 1300-1600 is quite busy, and again just before Iftar (breaking of the fast) as many people are trying to get to a specific place for Iftar. For an hour or so just after Iftar, and from 1600 to an hour or so before Iftar, the roads are relatively traffic-free.
  • Eating out during the day during Ramadan can be tricky, some restaurants and shops will have special curtained off areas where you can eat without being seen. In 2010 Dubai Mall’s food court had an area where you could eat your take aways, but I read that last year it was closed completely during the fasting hours of Ramadan, each Mall/Restaurant enforces their own guidelines during this time so its best to check if you want to go somewhere specific.

Another thing to bear in mind is regarding working hours … The Ministry of Labour has declared that all employees regardless of religion or sector within which they work, be it private or public are not required to work more than a 6hr day … and if you work for more than 6hrs a day the extra should be paid in overtime by your employer …

Now my company have me doing a 9hr day + 1hr for lunch so I technically have a 10hr working day from 7.30am to 5.30pm … an email went round the office end of last week that the official office hours during ramadan for our company is from 7.30am-1.30pm … which is actually pretty good cause they are assuming no lunch hour in that … but whether or not I will actually finish work at 1.30 and get to go home or not remains to be seen …

Bear in mind that the above information is mostly sourced from third parties, local newspapers and magazine websites … and this is just my understanding of what to expect … I have a feeling that some of these may be slightly exaggerated in parts and others may be completely true … but I’ll probably look to do another post about it in a couple weeks to see what its actually been like living in Dubai during Ramadan … from the perspective of a person who is not fasting …

Hope your having a good day … and if you are fasting this Ramadan then I wish you all the best … and hope it goes well for you …

Till next time …

Mina X

(P.S. all photos are mine so please do not copy or steal … thank you)

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10 thoughts on “Ramadan 2012 – Do’s and Dont’s in the UAE

  1. From someone who’s been living here for while now, I think you’ve got most point covered 🙂 It can acually be quite nice during Ramadan as things really quieten down – but don’t expect anything to be done over the next month as work comes to a standstill! Hope you do get to go home from work early – it’s one of the good things ! 🙂

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