We’re now coming towards the end of Ramadan, which is a period of the year where Muslims fast during daylight hours for a month. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. In Dubai, this means that fasting times are from 4am to around 7:15pm each day. During this time, Muslims will not eat or drink at all throughout the day. Usually they would wake up before 4am to eat, then go back to sleep, then not eat again until Iftar, the time when you can break the fast.
When I first moved to Dubai a year ago, it was the middle of Ramadan. However, I don’t really remember it being too much different. Everything was new at the time, and I was working in an office full of Europeans, so people were still eating and drinking indoors during office hours. This year has been different though, as now there is a larger proportion of Muslims in the office, and we have not been eating and drinking in the office.
So what actually happens during Ramadan in Dubai? Working hours are shorter and places such as shopping malls tend to stay open very late at night. Also, Dubai becomes a bit of a ghost town and is very quiet. By quiet, I mean that all the places which are normally busy are pretty much empty during the daytime, but at night time it starts to get busy again after Iftar. Most restaurants will close in the daytime, and those which remain open will either be open for delivery only or you’ll be able to eat in there behind closed curtains / covered up windows. As I enjoy eating a lot, this becomes the main thing which you need to get used to, as some places you can’t eat at anymore during the daytime. In respect to the culture, you’re also not allowed to eat or drink outside during fasting hours, and anyone caught doing so will be fined. From my point of view, these are the main things, however for those fasting, I can appreciate that Ramadan is very different for them and that their daily routine completely changes for a month or so. Needless to say, I think most people are looking forward to Eid at the end of Ramadan!