Ramadan is the holy month for Muslims all over the world. The exact timing changes from year to year. It is based on the sightings of the new crescent moon, which marks the beginning of the Ramadan. Most non-Muslims probably associate Ramadan with fasting, but the holy month is also the season for internal reflections, religious immersion and acts of charity and generosity.
Should you visit Dubai during Ramadan?
Considering that I usually travel out of Dubai for most of the holy month, it might not sound too convincing, if I told you that I think you should go. Though, my main reason for leaving Dubai during Ramadan is not solely due to Ramadan itself, but more the fact that it’s so hot in Dubai at this time of the year. I wouldn’t recommend anyone to visit Dubai during the summer, Ramadan or not, as the heat is unbearable.
Anyway, if you’re headed for Dubai during Ramadan, here’s my advice on how to get the most out of your stay.
Fasting Non-Muslims are not required to fast, but from sunrise to sunset, no eating or drinking is allowed in public, and this also applies to non-Muslims. Therefore, most restaurants and cafes are closed during daytime. The ones still open are hidden behind curtains or screens, so the food intake can be done without offending fasting individuals passing by. Smoking cigarettes and chewing gum should also be avoided in public during daytime.
I usually schedule coffee dates and other social activities after sunset, and I eat my meals indoors at home, but if you’re on vacation, you might want to grab a bite when you’re out and about in the city. The food courts in the larger shopping malls are usually open after noon, but it’s a good idea to check in advance, that the place you’re planning to visit is open.
Regarding fasting, an exception is made for pregnant women, young children, and people with medical conditions, who are allowed to eat and drink in public, but this should be done discreetly. Travelers are also exempted from the rules, so if you’re in transit in Dubai airport, fear not, as all restaurants and even duty free shops are open.
Nightlife during Ramadan
The nightclubs are closed during Ramadan, but certain bars are open. However, alcohol isn’t served until after sunset, and the music is kept at a very low level with no live music or DJ performances taking place. Instead of heading out for the rather dead bars in the city, I’d suggest that you spend some quality time with family and friends at the iftar buffets instead.
Iftar is the meal after sunset, when Muslims break the fast. You typically start the meal with 3 dates and a sample of traditional Arabic dishes and special Ramadan juices. However, globalization has even hit the iftar buffets, and I’ve seen sushi, spaghetti and tiramisu at buffets around Dubai. An iftar buffet in Dubai typically costs 50-200 AED depending on the venue, and Ramadan juices are included but no alcohol is served.
Dress code during Ramadan
Normally, you’ll spot more leopard print tank tops and miniskirts in Dubai Marina, than you see during a whole year in Denmark, but baring too much skin is actually prohibited by law in Dubai, even though not strictly enforced. However, most people dress more conservatively during Ramadan. Flashing naked shoulders, knees and cleavage is highly inappropriate and might even lead to reporting and fines. I can only recommend that you dress respectfully and cover up.
Wear something loose-fitting and less revealing, and drape a pashmina over your shoulders. Signs at the mall entrances usually provide guidelines as to how to dress appropriately, and speaking of malls, you’ll find a lot of special Ramadan sales all over the city.
Sooo, what’s the verdict?
To put it briefly: If you are looking for nights out in jam-packed nightclubs and Friday brunches with bubbles, then you may want to re-consider visiting the city during Ramadan or you’ll end up disappointed. Though if you are after a unique experience of the more traditional, less superficial aspects of this city, and you don’t mind the heat, then Ramadan is the perfect time to come by.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]