Q&A: Your questions about Ramadan in Dubai answered
With Ramadan set to tomorrow, Thursday, May 16, we've answered some of the most frequently asked questions about the Holy Month to help expats who are new to the region embrace and respect the religious occasion.
How long does Ramadan last?
Ramadan usually lasts between 29 and 30 days. This because Muslims follow the Islamic calendar that is based on lunar sightings. According to the Holy Quran (10:5), the new moon is used to mark the first day of each month. So as the average interval between new moons is 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 3 seconds, the lunar months alternate between 29 and 30 days in length.
Why do people fast during Ramadan?
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, when healthy Muslims are required to fast from sunrise to sunset to bring them closer to God and remind them of people who are less fortunate. It is one of the basic five tenants of the Islamic faith but there is a lot more to it than fasting. Fasting is to abstain. Not just from eating and drinking, but from any negative behaviour like losing your temper, unnecessary extravagance and pride.
Does that mean that I'm not allowed to eat or drink in public?
Article 313 of the UAE's penal code states that a person who publicly eats or drinks during the day during Ramadan, or encourages the act of eating or drinking publicly, can face imprisonment of up to a month or a fine of up to AED2,000.
Will my children be allowed to eat and drink?
Yes, all children are allowed to eat and drink as normal.
I’m travelling soon… will I be allowed to eat at the airport?
Yes, all travelling passengers are allowed to eat at the airport.
I’m on holiday and was hoping to work on my tan… can I go to the beach?
Yes, you can. However, standard fasting rules apply, so that means no eating or drinking. Although not a rule, it is advised that all beach-goers to be respectful and wear modest swim wear.
I spend most of my work day driving… am I allowed to smoke and eat in my car?
The general rule states that smoking, eating and drinking in public is prohibited during Ramadan, so unless your car is screened off from public view, it's not advisable.
I have a bunch of friends coming to visit me, will there be any restaurants open during the day this Ramadan?
Most of the restaurants in Dubai will stay open during the Holy Month. Some will be open for in-house dining while others will only be doing deliveries.
Do I have to alter the way I dress?
As Ramadan is a Holy Month, everyone is required to dress respectfully. That means covering your knees and shoulders as well as refraining from wearing clothing that is too tight.
What about the nightlife, does that stop completely?
No, not necessarily. Many venues in Dubai close for the whole summer, and others stay open all year. It is a quieter time of year in general though, so it's best to check the venue's Facebook page to see if they are open.
I visited Dubai a few years ago and the cinemas were only airing old movies, is that still the case?
No, not anymore. New movies will continue to aired on a weekly basis.
What about snacks? Will I be allowed to eat in the cinemas?
That depends on which cinema company you’re planning on going to. Last year, Reel Cinemas announced that it will not be selling snacks before iftar and that guests are not allowed to eat at their outlets (The Dubai Mall and Dubai Marina Mall) before sunset. Vox Cinemas, on the other hand, stated that it will be selling snacks as takeaway orders and that moviegoers are allowed to eat, but only in the cinema halls.
How can I give back to the less fortunate this Ramadan?
Ramadan is a great time to give back to the community. One of the projects you can get involved in include the Ramadan/Sharing Fridges initiative that gives back to the less fortunate by supplying them with free food.