Ramadan Guide for Expatriates in Dubai

Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar and one of the most important one for Muslims. They fast during these 30 days from dawn to dusk, during which they don’t eat or drink anything and abstain from all vices. The 30 days of fasting are then followed by 3 days of celebration, known as Eid-ul-Fitr.

However, during those 30 days there are certain rules and restrictions that need to be followed, which can appear a little daunting to expatriates. They often wonder about what they should wear, which places they should visit, what are the etiquettes of Ramadan and how they should behave during the holy month. In this guide we will answer all these questions and provide tips for expats who are going to be spending their first Ramadan in Dubai.


  • 1

    Respect the holy month

    Non-muslims are obviously not expected to adhere to Islamic teachings. They are not required to fast, pray or recite the Quran in Ramadan. But they ARE expected to show respect for Muslims who are performing their religious duties.

    You should not eat, drink or smoke in public when everyone else is fasting. In some Emirates, (not specifically Dubai), people who do not abstain from smoking, eating or drinking are fined by the government.

  • 2

    No Eatables Available Publicly During the Day

    Many restaurants are closed in Dubai till Iftar time. There are only a small number of food courts that are open. However, some restaurants may be open in a few shopping malls to serve guests, but these will be secluded and out of public view. Moreover, a lot of restaurants will not serve any alcohol, especially during the day.

  • 3

    Must Wear Decent Clothes

    Expat women aren’t expected to wear abayas or cover their hair, but out of respect for the holy month, they are advised to cover themselves properly. Clothes which show skin are not appropriate and should not be worn out in public during Ramadan.

  • 4

    Dim Bar & Club Life

    Expats in Dubai have regular restaurant brunches but they are not served during Ramadan. Also, either not any event is scheduled in a bar or restaurant or it is done silently to not attract unnecessary attention, and respect the religious month.

  • 5

    Be Careful About Rush Hours

    You should avoid going out right before or after Iftar time, unless you don't mind getting stuck in traffic. Also, if you need to go for grocery shopping – make sure it is done before Iftar because stores and shops get really crowded after Iftari.

  • 6

    Get Stuff Done During the Day

    In case a government or private office needs to be visited, it must be done early during the day because working hours are reduced by 2 hours in Ramadan.

  • 7

    Avoid Eating/Drinking at Workplace

    If you are at work around Muslims, try and not have coffee or tea on your desk. Show respect and have it in the kitchen or an area designated by the company

  • 8

    Avoid Confrontations

    Since Dubai is a hot country with a warm climate, fasting is no mean task. Sometimes, as is natural, people tend to be more on edge when hungry or thirsty, so it is recommended that you avoid confrontations and be a little more patient than usual.

  • 9

    Contribute to Charities

    Since Ramadan is considered a month of giving and Muslims like to take part in charitable exercises, they are not exclusively for them. You can also contribute to charities, show solidarity and give alms.

  • 10

    Avoid Public Displays of Affection

    Avoid public displays of affection with your spouse/partner during Ramadan. While it is considered inappropriate in public places, during the holy month it must be avoided at all costs.

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