Ramadan has begun and here’s what you need to know about it

Jumeirah Mosque Ramadan 2017

The first day of Ramadan will fall on Saturday, 27th May, the UAE has announced.

It’s the most holy month in the Islamic calendar and will be marked by fasting from dawn to dusk, spirituality and charity.

Working hours for private sector employees in the UAE are being shortened by two hours and public sector workers will start at 9am and finish at 2pm.

Ramadan 2017 stock image

How can non-Muslims share in the Ramadan experience?

For non-Muslims – whether you’re new or a longtime UAE resident – this time of year provides the perfect opportunity to understand Islam and its traditions.

As well as the working day being shorter, there’s a chance to get involved by attending iftars, supporting good causes and observing Ramadan etiquette.

Does and don’ts for Ramadan, from the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU):

Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding

  • Respect the dress code – dress modestly. Both men and women should cover their shoulders and ensure that the length of their clothing is at about the knee line.
  • Be courteous – Do not eat, drink, smoke or chew gum in public or in the presence of those who are fasting. Be discreet with your eating and drinking. Many companies provide private rooms for those who are not fasting – use those areas to eat. Be especially discreet if you are in your car or in public areas.
  • Be responsible – Do not play loud music, curse or behave in a manner that is considered disrespectful to others. Ramadan is a time of heightened spirituality. Be mindful of the needs of others.
  • Learn to greet others – Learn the appropriate way to greet others in Arabic during Ramadan and practice saying it to those you meet. ‘Ramadan Kareem’ or ‘Ramadan Mubarak’ is a popular greeting said at the start of Ramadan. ‘Kareem’ means ‘generous’ and ‘Mubarak’ means ‘blessings.’ Other greetings include ‘Mubarak Alaikum Alshaher’ to which the response may be ‘Allah Yebarek Feek’.
  • Be aware – The timing of business hours and bus routes change during Ramadan. Many shops and government agencies will post Ramadan timing, so be sure to check before you venture out. Peak hours have slight variations at this time too. Avoid going out on the road during the hours leading up to Iftar.
  • Participate – Many hotels and restaurants have special Iftar deals but join Muslims for an authentic Iftar. Accept invitations from a Muslim work colleague or friend at his home for Iftar. You can also join a tent or a masjid Iftar feeding the poor, by handing out food and food items.

Find out more about Ramadan by booking a traditional iftar with Emirati hosts at the SMCCU.

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