Everything you need to know about Ramadan

SMCCU Ramadan

The first day of Ramadan 2018 will fall in May. It’s the most holy month in the Islamic calendar and will be marked by fasting from dawn to dusk, prayers and giving to charity.

A definite date hasn’t been confirmed yet, but for 2018 it’s predicted to start around Tuesday, 14th May, depending on when the moon is sighted.

Dubai’s pace of life definitely changes during Holy Month. Working hours during Ramadan for those in the private sector have not been confirmed, but UAE labour law says they should reduce by at least two hours per day. Public sector workers will start at 9am and finish at 2pm. Children will still attend school, but the Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority stipulates that school timings should not exceed five hours during Holy Month.

For non-Muslims, whether you’re new or a longtime UAE resident, it’s a great time to find out more about Islam. Attend iftars with friends and colleagues, give back by through good causes and observe Ramadan etiquette. This year, it’s expected that many restaurants will stay open during the day and we’ll have a full list of where non-Muslims can eat out of sight.

Ramadan Fridges

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

  • 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 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 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. You can also join a tent or a masjid iftar feeding the poor, by handing out food and food items.


The SMCCU promotes awareness of Emirati culture through food and friendship and is a must-try during Ramadan. From 19th May, head to the courtyard in Al Fahidi before the call to prayer every evening to watch your hosts pray and enjoy an iftar of traditional Emirati dishes. AED 185 for adults, kids AED 90 (under sixes go free). 04 353 6666.

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