What is Ramadan?

Ramadan Traditions in the UAE

eid mubarak

What is Ramadan? Find all the facts about this religious celebration for Muslims. Learn the do and don't in the UAE during this religious fast.

Expats in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and the surrounding Emirates will be familiar with the fasting period for Muslims known as Ramadan and how this most sacred of months affects the country and its people.

If you are planning a move or visit to the United Arab Emirates, during Ramadan then you will need to be aware of what Ramadan means to the local Muslim population and how to ensure you do not cause offense to anyone.

When is Ramadan?


Ramadan, simply, is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar and is currently celebrated around August, lasting a period of 29-30 days. Ramadan is the most sacred month as Muslims believe that the Koran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammed, during the last 10 nights of Ramadan

Dates for Ramadan (dates may vary according to the sighting of the moon)

  • Ramadan 2012 July 20-August 18th
  • Ramadan 2013 July 9-August 7th
  • Ramadan 2014 June 28-June 27th

Eid Al Fitr follows Ramadan-read more about this celebration here!


What is Ramadan? - Ramadan Traditions

teaching at ramada

There are many unique Ramadan traditions and customs. The entire period of this holy month is spent in deep religious worship and spiritual contemplation, observed by daytime fasting. Muslims have specific obligations during this time:

No drinking, eating, sex or smoking from sunrise to sunset-this known as Ramandan Fasting

• All undesirable emotions; lust, envy or greed are to be curbed and gossip is strongly discouraged

• To be pure in thought and deed, using their time for spiritual contemplation

• To be giving and aid those who are less fortunate

• To visit family and friends.

Fasting is not obligatory for children under 12, although many do fast. The elderly, those with mental health problems, travelers, people who are ill, and pregnant or nursing women do not have to fast.

This cessation gives them an obligation to feed for one person who is in need every day of Ramadan.

Those who work outside are allowed to break their fast due to ‘severe hardship’, but workers are expected to begin their morning fasting and only break it if conditions are no longer bearable.

Soaring temperatures have led to the death of outside workers and many have been in need of medical care, due to heat strokes and related illnesses.



Tips for Visitors During Ramadan

Visitors and expats also have specific obligations: if you are asking What is Ramadan? Read this!

• It is illegal to eat, drink or smoking in public (including your car) during daylight hours. You can receive a fine and a lecture from local police, although urban legends suggest you might end up in prison for the remainder of Ramadan The severity of any punishments may increase away from the tourist areas.

• If you have children, they are permitted to eat during the day, although discretion is still called for.

• The dress code during Ramadan calls for more conservative apparel, with legs and shoulders covered.

• It is considered polite to turn down car stereos and as traffic changes for Ramadan, jams become prevalent between 1300 and 1600 hours. Most bars and nightclubs will be closed or at least very quiet during the period.

As with any other country, a little respect goes a long way and will help you to integrate fully into society.


Read about other UAE holidays here.

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