A guide to visiting Dubai during Ramadan

There are a range of reasons Dubai, a metropolis in the United Arab Emirates, is such a popular destination for holidays. It’s Middle Eastern heat, the luxury shopping malls and lifestyle, stunning beaches and landscapes, unique and fascinating culture and much, much more.


However, each year Dubai celebrates the holy month of Ramadan, and during this time the city can be quite different. In this article, we answer frequently asked questions about Ramadan, what it looks like in the city of Dubai and what visiting there would look like during the holy month.


Read on to find out everything you need to know.


Ramadan is a holy month celebrated by Muslims

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is a holy month celebrated by Muslims around the world. Intended to remember the month the Qur’an was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, Ramadan is a month where Muslims devote themselves fully to their faith to become closer to Allah.


To do this, people fast during the daylight hours (this doesn’t apply to children, older people and those who are pregnant, ill or travelling a long way), spend more time with friends and family, help people in need and refrain from bad habits such as gossiping, swearing and arguing. Depending on their personal beliefs, different people might celebrate Ramadan differently, for example, some people will not listen to music during the month, complete extra nightly prayers called Tarawih or recite the Qur’an.


When is Ramadan in Dubai?

The Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle and Ramadan is the ninth month of the calendar. Ramadan starts once the new crescent moon appears in the sky – ending after 29 or 30 days (depending on the lunar cycle). This means that the dates can vary slightly around the world and are different each year.


In 2022, Ramadan is predicted to begin in early April and end at the beginning of May in Dubai. As the exact date depends on the lunar cycle, it can only be officially announced a few days before, however, is it is expected to fall on the 2nd or 3rd of April in 2022.


Is it okay to travel to Dubai during Ramadan?

Yes, it’s certainly okay to travel to Dubai during Ramadan and, for those who want to really experience the culture, it can be the best time of year to do so as religious customs are at the forefront of people’s minds. The only thing you need to consider if you are thinking about travelling to Dubai during Ramadan is what type of holiday you are looking to have and whether the changes the city experiences during the holy month might take away from your trip. If you are looking for an authentic experience and the ability to fully live in another culture then travelling during Ramadan is a fantastic idea, however, if you are looking for a more upbeat holiday where you spend time dining out and enjoying the hustle and bustle, you might be best looking to book for another time of year.


visiting Dubai during Ramadan

What to expect when visiting Dubai during Ramadan

Eating and drinking can only be done in private

The largest difference and one that might take the most to get used to are the rules around eating and drinking in public during the month of Ramadan. This includes eating, drinking (including water), smoking and chewing gum. When it comes to chewing gum, smoking, drinking and eating in Ramadan, Dubai has laws in place for those of all faiths saying these practices should not be done in public. This means, if you are visiting during the month of Ramadan then, apart from Suhoor and Iftar, you should eat and drink only when in your hotel room/home.


You’ll find that mostly all restaurants are closed until sunset, however, in recent years some have decided to remain open during the day to a leniency in the law and will have sheets blocking their windows to create a private space. Also, if you are visiting a large attraction or staying in a large hotel you may find designated eating and drinking spaces that are cordoned off.


If you are apprehensive about not being able to eat or drink during your stay, contact your accommodation or our team to discuss what your hotel will have in place for the month of Ramadan.


Early mornings and late nights to enjoy Suhoor and Iftar

What Dubai lacks in eating and drinking during the sunlight hours during Ramadan it makes up for in Suhoor and Iftar celebrations. Suhoor, the meal eaten before sunrise, and Iftar, the meal eaten after sunset, are integral parts of Ramadan where family and friends come together to celebrate their faith and break the fast.


When you’re in Dubai during Ramadan, taking part in Suhoor and Iftar celebrations is a must, with many hotels putting on their own events daily. It’s also very common for those who are part of Ramadan to invite those who aren’t Muslim into their home to celebrate Suhoor or Iftar and be a part of the process. You’ll often see extravagant Iftar tents pop up around the city during Ramadan for those to dine in after the fasting hours. These meals are those of love and celebration and thankfulness and if you get the opportunity to take part in one you certainly should.


Keri Hedrick, the mind behind Dubai Travel Planner who is based in nearby Abu Dhabi, spoke to us about Ramadan in Dubai and this was her suggestion: “Ramadan offers the opportunity to gain a much greater understanding of the Islamic culture in Dubai. Try taking part for a day; follow the fasting guidelines then join in with the end-of-day Iftar (breaking of the fast) for a deeper appreciation or partake in the SMCCU Iftar program for an immersive Ramadan experience.”


Lifestyle and Travel Blogger Helen Debrah-Ampofo also spoke to us about why visiting Dubai during Ramadan is a wonderful choice and touched on Iftar celebrations: “Ramadan is a great time to visit Dubai because it exposes people to the generosity of Muslims. Prior to COVID, Muslims across the would open their homes and invite non-Muslim friends and colleagues to Iftars (the meal at sunset) where they could eat traditional food and spend time together. Now that COVID is here, the UAE are still finding creative ways to enjoy Iftars in a safer way. After Ramadan, there is a celebration called Eid. This is a national holiday in the UAE and there are a plethora of events to attend as well as massive discounts everywhere. It’s a great time of year!”


Visit Dubai

Shorter working hours and altered opening times

As a large majority of Dubai residents will be fasting during Ramadan and be observing their proper practices and as such you may find that some places have altered opening times due to shorter working hours. Larger shops, parks and attractions and malls aren’t usually affected by the shorter working hours however, you may find smaller establishments have altered opening times. Alternatively, you may find that some places have later opening hours during Ramadan to account for Iftar.


What you will find is that many of the most popular malls and attractions are a lot quieter than they might be during the rest of the year so you can skip the long lines and busy crowds to get a view of the city. This will all change after sunset, however, as people will end their fast and you may find traffic is bad. If you do want to dine out after sunset, it’s wise to make a reservation.


People are more conservative and introspective

As people follow their Ramadan practices, you’ll find that people are more conservative and introspective, and so life in Dubai might seem quieter than usual. For example, playing music out loud in the holy month is prohibited so you’ll miss the buzz of music in the background at shops and from cars (though you are still allowed to wear headphones as you walk around).


You’ll also find people might be dressed more conservatively during the month, and visitors should try to dress modestly by not wearing any clothes that might be deemed revealing, too tight or too short. This is for both men and women.


Equally, public affection is already something you should avoid in Dubai but more so during Ramadan, so make sure that you aren’t touching or kissing whilst out in public (this means Ramadan might not be the ideal month for a honeymoon to Dubai.)


A range of Ramadan sales and offers

Finally, many stores and attractions will have a range of sales and offers for the month and so, for those who are looking to shop until they drop this might be the perfect time to visit! You might find discounts and money off, or, many places will offer gifts for spending a certain amount so if you are looking to shop it can be a great time to get more for your money.


Do's and Don'ts in Dubai during Ramadan

Dubai is a fantastic holiday destination year-round and visiting in Ramadan can offer a unique experience compared to the other 11 months of the year. So, if a trip during the holy month sounds like something you’d enjoy, our Dubai holiday packages have a range of great offers on some of the city’s best hotels and resorts.


For more articles featuring tips and travel advice, visit our blog.

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