Ramadan in Dubai 2024 – Things you need to know
Ramadan is a sacred celebration for Muslims worldwide. During this month, followers of Islam observe fasting and engage in devout prayers. The article explores the customs of this special period and highlights essential knowledge for expatriates to be aware of.
Ramadan holds immense importance for the majority of Muslims within Islamic culture. During this time, believers adhere to the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, who received wisdom that later became part of the sacred Quran. Throughout the month, Muslims feel a special connection to the divine messages conveyed by the Prophet, hence they honor the traditions of the celebration.
Determining the beginning and end of the celebration
The start date of Ramadan varies each year but always coincides with the beginning of the ninth month of the lunar calendar. In 2023, Ramadan commenced on March 23rd and ended on April 21st. In 2024, the festival will span from March 10th to April 9th.
How is it held
During the 30 days of Ramadan, Muslims observe strict fasting, known as saum. During this period, believers refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, and engaging in intimate relations during daylight hours. Saum is observed by adults and children over 12 years old. However, menstruating women, pregnant or nursing mothers, individuals with diabetes, the critically ill, and the elderly are exempt from fasting.
Traditions dictate strict abstention from food and drink during daylight hours. Muslims are only allowed to eat twice during this month: during suhoor – the pre-dawn meal, and iftar – the evening meal after sunset. Many establishments in Ramadan open iftar buffets and adjust their working hours, with the beginning of iftar announced by the firing of a cannon.
The last 10 days of fasting are the most rigorous, during which some undertake pilgrimages to Mecca or seclude themselves for contemplative prayers in mosques.
City restrictions during Ramadan
Banking and stores
During Ramadan, banks and government offices in the UAE operate from 09:00 to 13:00. Major supermarkets and shopping centers maintain regular hours until late evening or operate round the clock, while owners of small stores may adjust their hours to 10:00-13:00 and 18:30-24:00.
Restaurants and cafes
Most restaurants and cafés are closed during the day, although some establishments make exceptions and cater to tourists. Restrictions on meals and smoking do not apply to restaurants within hotels: here, you can eat and smoke whenever you like.
During iftar, many establishments offer buffet-style meals. Locals, expatriates, and tourists can dine together, but a Muslim should be the first to begin the meal. The majority of cafés, bars, and restaurants during Ramadan refrain from live music and dancing even during nighttime hours.
What tourists and expatriates need to know
In the UAE, there is a law outlined in Article 313-A of the Penal Code. According to it, those who cause disturbances during the holiday, disrupt prayers, or dress provocatively may face a fine of $720 or imprisonment for up to 1 month.
Tourists and expatriates may represent other faiths, but they should still respect the holiday:
- opt for modest attire, especially during the day, in public places: women should cover their shoulders and wear loose clothing below the knees, while men should avoid short shorts and sleeveless shirts;
- avoid playing music or making noise on the streets to avoid disturbing worshippers;
- during Ramadan, many restaurants and cafes adjust their hours, so plan your meals and choose a venue in advance;
- refrain from eating, drinking, and smoking in public places during the day.
Things to do
The primary restrictions during Ramadan in Dubai concern daytime meals, loud music, and dancing. However, everything else remains accessible to tourists and expatriates without limitations:
- engage in shopping and purchase desired items at a good discount;
- explore museums or art galleries to discover something new;
- enjoy family time at the amusement park;
- soak up the sun by the Persian Gulf on the pristine beach;
- work on your fitness at the gym;
- marvel at local colorful landmarks;
- visit the traditional gold and spice markets;
- immerse yourself in the richness of traditions by sharing a meal with Muslims during iftar.
Sales during the festival
Traveling to the UAE during Ramadan is an opportune time as tours are much cheaper, and hotel room rates decrease due to lower occupancy.
During Ramadan, shopping malls hold lotteries with valuable prizes, many stores offer discounts up to 85%, and major retail chains announce sales for the month. In 2023, Dubai's World Trade Center held a 15-day super sale with discounts up to 70%, while Dubai Duty Free offered discounts up to 20%. Discounts on cosmetics, skincare products, and perfumes during this month reach up to 50%.
The sacred holiday is also a good time to purchase furniture and appliances. Major furniture showrooms like Crate and Barrel, Bloomingdale, and West Elm offered discounts up to 70% on office, home, and garden furniture, decor items, and chandeliers. Carrefour announced sales on televisions, appliances, smartphones, cameras, and cameras with discounts up to 70%.
During Ramadan, Dubai takes on a special atmosphere and Eastern charm, offering you the chance to see the city from a completely new perspective.
Our brokers will introduce you to the rich Eastern culture, consider all preferences when selecting property from the developer, and be the first to congratulate you on your move.