Here’s what you can expect during Ramadan in Abu Dhabi

Ramadan is a sacred month for Muslims and as people fast during the day and work hours shift, the dynamics of the capital can change slightly. Here’s what to expect.

lthough expats make up more than 80 percent of the country’s population, the UAE is a Muslim country and as a law-abiding resident you will have to follow suit. While some of the below mentioned rules are applicable year-round, they’re stricter during Ramadan. Here’s how the capital is expected to make a shift during the holy month…

Dressing modestly is key. It is advised for men and women to not wear tight or revealing clothes such as outfits in which your knees, shoulders and cleavage are visible. 

If you’re new to the UAE, take note. While you may not be fasting yourself, the UAE has strict laws against eating and drinking in public, and it’s punishable by law. While most restaurants are closed until iftar time at sunset, to cater to non-Muslims, several restaurants will be open discreetly. In fact, some provide takeaway services as well and mall food courts are cordoned off for those who aren’t fasting. 

It’s not just about food. Remember that fasting means smoking and chewing gum are prohibited in public as well. Although not punishable by law, listening to loud music is considered offensive so be mindful of this while at home and when driving. This is why you’ll also notice that no public areas like malls play music.

Your work day will change. In order to accommodate those who are fasting, public sector job hours are reduced by five hours, while private sector employees get off from work two hours earlier than their regular time. 

So will school hours. Students also enjoy shorter hours during Ramadan. Last year, schools started at 8.30am and finished between noon and 2.30pm.  

Shops will still be open, though. Contrary to popular belief, malls and most shops remain operational throughout the day, though they do close for a few hours before and after iftar so that staff can pray and break their fast. As the city comes to life at night, mall and shop hours are typically increased until around midnight during weekdays and 1am on weekends.  

Drive safely. During daylight hours, many people on the road may be fasting so could be less alert on the roads as they struggle to concentrate. Take care while driving and avoid it where possible, especially closer to iftar time. This is considered rush hour, so you can expect the roads to be packed with people rushing either to their homes or restaurants to break their fast on time. 

Enjoy the season. Ramadan is a beautiful time when the community comes together and the city comes alive at night with themed events and activities for everyone. It’s the perfect time to get to know your neighbours, colleagues and even strangers so embrace the spirit of Ramadan and join in the occasion.

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