Ramadan / Ramadhan in Dubai and the UAE
Ramadan information and dates
Ramadan (Ramadhan) information and dates in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and UAE. Background and what the month of Ramadan means for tourists and visitors to, and residents of Dubai.
- Ramadan (or Ramadhan / Ramazan / Ramzan / Ramdam / Ramadaan but not Ramadam) is the name of the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, it follows Shaban (or Sha'ban / Shaaban - the eighth month), and is followed by the month of Shawwal / Shawal / Shawaal.
- Ramadhan is an important period of religious significance for Muslims who observe the period with daytime fasting, worship and spiritual contemplation.
- Ramadan is regarded as the holiest month in the Islam calendar because Muslims believe that the Qur'an (or Koran) was revealed to the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) during the month of Ramadan on the night of Laylat al Qadr (or Laylat ul Qadr), one of the last ten nights of Ramadhan.
Ramadan dates 2005-2013
- Ramadan months are approximately (the first and last days of Ramadan are subject to confirmation by the moon sighting committee):
- Estimated dates in italics until confirmed by moon sighting committee.
- Iftar/Magreb times for Dubai. Add 4 minutes for Abu Dhabi, subtract 4 minutes for RAK, subtract 6 minutes for Fujairah. Iftar time changes by about 1 minute each day during Ramadhan.
- UAE schools will close for summer on 11 July 2010, and reopen after Eid Al Fitr on 14 September 2010 according to UAE Ministry of Education announcement 25 February 2010.
Ramadan and Eid Al Fitr UAE dates 2012
- 17 Aug 2012 - The 30th day of Ramadan 1433 H will be Saturday 18 August 2012, and Eid Al Fitr will start on Sunday 19 August 2012 (WAM 17 Aug 2012).
- 10 May 2012 - WAM reported Ramadan might start on Saturday 21 July 2012 and Eid Al Fitr on 19 August 2012 based on calculations by Ibrahim Al Jarwan, Astronomy Researcher and Supervisor of Sharjah Planetarium, who said that the birth of the crescent moon will be on Thursday, 19th July 2012, at 8:24 am (UAE time), and the sunset will be at 5:09 pm, while the moon will set two minutes after sunset.
Ramadan and Eid Al Fitr UAE dates 2011
- Start date of Ramadan 2011 is Monday 01 August 2011 (WAM news 30 July 2011).
Eid Al Fitr UAE dates 2010
Eid Al Fitr start date is Friday 10 September 2010, last day of Ramadan 2010 is Thursday 09 September 2010 (WAM news 08 September 2010).
"Ramadan Mubarak" and "Ramadan Kareem" are congratulatory greetings used when the first day of Ramadan is announced (kareem means generous and mubarak means blessings). Suhoor is the meal in the morning just before sunrise - it is usually a light meal. Iftar is the time of the evening meal just after sunset, traditionally a light snack of dates and water, although this might no be so obvious in Dubai. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims have the following obligations
- No eating, drinking, smoking or sex between sunrise (fajr) and sunset (maghrib, rather than magrib).
- Curb undesirable emotions such as anger, greed, envy, lust, and refrain from gossip.
- Keep thoughts and actions pure and use the time of fasting for spiritual contemplation.
- Be charitable and help those in need.
- Visit friends and family members.
Children (cut-off point is about 12 years old), the elderly, the insane, travellers, pregnant or nursing women, sick people, and those who are fighting in battle are not expected to fast. Instead they should feed one poor person each day during Ramadan, or, in the case of temporary conditions, make up the days by fasting at a later date. Women should not fast during menstruation but make up those days after Ramadan.
Workers in the UAE can break fasting during the day (Ramadan 2010)
- Labourers and workers in the UAE can break their fast during the day in the UAE according to a Fatwa issued by the UAE General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments (Awqaf) according to news reports 09 August 2010. Website reference at www.awqaf.ae/Fatwa.aspx?SectionID=9&RefID=12674 (in Arabic, dated 05 August 2010).
- The fatwa said "It is permissible for workers in certain professions to break the fast because of severe hardship," referring to a question from an oil rig worker about working outside in the extreme summer climate of the UAE. But workers are expected to start the day by fasting and only break the fast if conditions are unbearable.
- Outside temperatures in the UAE from June to September are usually well over 40° Celcius during the day, and sometimes as high as 50° Celcius, with high humidity adding to discomfort levels. Every year during the summer a number of construction and other outside workers in Dubai and UAE are hospitalized with heat related issues, and a few deaths result.
Ramadan events and activities in Dubai and the UAE
- Iftar is the evening time when, just after the sun sets, a cannon is fired to announce the breaking of the fast for the day. There's one in the car park at Gate 4 of Safa Park in Jumeirah if you want to get close to the action.
- Iftar is not the time to have a large feast - traditionally it was a few dates and some water. Later in the evening is when it becomes more festive with larger meals enjoyed amongst friends and family.
- Mosques offer free Iftar meals to the less privileged members of society, whether they are Muslim or not. The meals might be sponsored by charities, companies, or individuals. The Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque has one of the largest Iftar gatherings in their carpark.
- Many hotels will have special Iftar tents where customers can have a simple or more complex meal - with a range of prices to match.
- Ramadan is seen as an opportunity to visit friends and family members, especially those with whom contact has faded.
- The rulers in various emirates pardon a number of prison inmates on the first day of Ramadan. Some are also released for the month of Ramadan to spend time with their family.
- Most businesses and government offices will close for the day sometime between 1400 and 1600. Iftar is at sunset, around 1730-1900 depending on the time of year. Some government departments will reopen in the evenings for 2-4 hours between 2000 and midnight.
- Business activities tend to slow down during Ramadan. Expect delays with any commercial or bureaucratic activities.
- Almost all restaurants and cafes will be closed during the day but many will extend their opening hours at night.
- There might be a few eating outlets open during the day for dine-in customers in larger hotels and shopping centers. Some fast food restaurants allow drive-through or take-outs.
- Supermarkets are normally open during the day and have extended hours at night - sometimes till midnight or even later.
- Shopping centers are open during the day and an extra hour or two at night. Closing times might be as late as midnight or 0100 (1am).
Rules and expectations specific to Dubai and the UAE
- It is illegal to eat, drink or smoke in public during daylight hours (including in your car). Urban legend has it that you end up in jail for the remainder of the month of Ramadan if caught, however it is more likely that you'll get a lecture from the police and possibly a fine. The law says a fine up to 2000 / 2500 dhs or up to 1 or 2 month jail sentence as far as we know.
- For example, in September 2008, a Lebanese male resident and Russian female visitor were drinking juice in an EPPCO petrol station in Dubai before Iftar, and fined 1000 dhs each according to an article in the Gulf News. Apparently a witness saw them and reported them to the police, who shipped the couple off to court. It seems a surprisingly harsh outcome, unless there is more to the story than was reported.
- Sharjah is likely to have harsher penalties for the same offence.
- Khalil Ibrahim Mansouri, Director General of the department of criminal investigation at the Dubai Police, was reported on 20 August 2009 as saying "We call on people to help us by reporting anyone they see breaking the fast", referring to people eating, drinking, or smoking in public during the day during Ramadan. The report seemed to think that Mr Mansouri was keen to see residents and visitors chucked in jail - the headline was "People caught eating during Ramadan face jail" and pointed out that 24 people had been jailed in Dubai in the past 3 years for violating the Ramadan fasting period. The original source of the report is unclear.
- If you have hungry children, they are permitted to eat during the day but it would be sensible to be discreet about it. If you're desperate for food or drink for them, get a snack at a supermarket or service station, or possibly a restaurant/cafe even if they look closed (knock on the door - there might be someone in the back).
- It is respectful and polite to dress more conservatively during Ramadan - shoulders and legs should be covered, although it is apparent when walking around some of the shopping malls in Dubai that many people either don't know or don't bother.
- Bars in Dubai are usually still open but patrons might be asked what religion they are and refused entry if they are Muslim. Live and loud music is banned, so is dancing, so most nightclubs in Dubai will be closed or very quiet. Bars in Abu Dhabi might be closed. Bars in Ras Al Khaimah usually stay open. Bars in Sharjah don't exist.
- Any alcohol related offences will probably be treated much more severely than outside the month of Ramadan - it is quite possible an offender is stuck in prison until the end of Ramadan.
- Car stereos should be turned down - loud music, especially rock or similar music, is disrespectful at least, and if police hear it, they'll have something to say about it.
- Traffic jam times change - the morning is not much different but afternoons from 1300-1600 is quite busy, and again just before Iftar as many people are trying to get to a desired location for Iftar. Every year there are numerous accidents and requests from police to drive carefully at the time. For an hour or so just after Iftar, and from 1600 to an hour or so before Iftar, the roads are relatively traffic-free.
Ramadan working hours in the UAE
- Companies are required by law to reduce working time by 2 hours per day for all employees, not only Muslims and/or those who are fasting. If employees work longer hours, they should receive overtime pay. Workers can file a complaint at the UAE Ministry of Labour if a company is not following this rule, or not paying overtime for employees who do work longer hours.
- Despite this, many companies force their employees to work non-Ramadan hours, especially non-Muslim workers, according to a Maktoob Business report 13 September 2010 of a Yahoo! Maktoob News poll of an unknown number of respondents (maybe it was only 5, of whom 3 had to work longer hours) -
Sixty percent of respondents said their employer breached official working hours in some form, whether it was forcing all staff to work regular hours or just non-Muslims.
Ramadan timings Abu Dhabi, Dubai, UAE 2010
- See the Ramadan 2010 in UAE page for details of opening hours along with details of hotels and other places with Iftar and Suhoor meals and buffet deals.
Restaurants, cafes, and eating outlets with daytime opening hours during Ramadan
- Supermarkets and service stations are open with food and drink available for purchase but don't consume in the place of purchase, in public, or in your car during the day.
- Most high end hotels will have room service and possibly one or two outlets open during the day, but alcohol won't be served until after Iftar.
- The larger shopping centers in Dubai (probably not in other emirates) might have several shops open for takeaways only but not dine-in - except for The Dubai Mall which has an area in the upstairs food court where you can eat your takeaways (in 2010 at least). Food courts will be closed during the day, except in some of the Dubai free zones and at Dubai International Airport.
- See restaurants open daytime in Dubai for Ramadan (2010) for more names and details. Also Ramadan 2009 in Dubai for last year's list.
Eid Al Fitr holiday
Dubai International Holy Quran Award (DIHQA)
- The Dubai International Holy Quran Award (DIHQA) was established by Sheikh Mohammed in 1997 (1418 Hijri) as a competition to encourage memorization and understanding of the Holy Quran.
- The 11th session of the Dubai International Holy Quran Award was held in 2007 (1428 Hijri) and was won by Mohammad Fadil Rabi from Bangladesh, first prize was 250,000 dirhams.
- In 2008, Mohammad Bin Ahmad Zahid (13 years old) from Malaysia won the Quran recitation contest at the Dubai International Holy Quran Award.
- Adhan - call to prayer
- Allah - God
- Asr - mid-afternoon prayer
- Dhuhur / Dhuhr / Zuhr - midday prayer
- Eid Al Adha (Day of Sacrifice) - a 4 day festival that starts about 70 days after the end of Ramadan, commemorating Ibrahim / Abraham being ready to sacrifice his son.
- Eid Al Fitr - a festival at the end of Ramadan (the first three days of the month of Shawwal) to celebrate the completion of the month of fasting.
- Eid Mubarak - congratulations at the start of Eid
- Fajr (dawn) - the first prayer of the day, at dawn
- Fawanees - colorful lanterns used to decorate Iftar tents, the tradition originates in Cairo, Egypt, when residents walked out to the streets with lamps to welcome a new Fatimid ruler on the 5th day of Ramadan in the 9th century.
- Iftar - the evening meal after sunset to break the daily fast during Ramadan
- Imam - an Islamic religious leader
- Imsak - beginning the daily fast, means the act rather than the time
- Isha / Isha'a - evening prayer, the fifth and last prayer of the day
- Kabaa / Ka'ba / Kaaba / Kabah - the black granite building inside the Grand Mosque in Mecca, regarded as the holiest place in Islam.
- Laylat Al Qadr or Lailat Al Qadr (Night of Power) - one of the last nights of Ramadan, marking the anniversary of when the first verses of the Quran were revealed to the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) by the Angel Gabriel.
- Maghreb / Maghrib - sunset prayer
- Manara - minaret
- Qibla - the direction of the Ka'ba in Mecca / Makkah
- Quran / Koran - the holy book for Islam, first revealed during Lailat Al Qadr. Muslims recite the entire Quran during Ramadan.
- Rak'ah / Raka / Rak'a / Rak'aa / Rakaa / - the cycle of standing, bowing, prostration and recitation that make up a unit of prayer. Each of the five daily prayer sessions consists of 2-4 Rakat / Raka'at (plural of Rak'ah).
- Ramadan Kareem - Ramadan greetings (Kareem equivalent to "generous"), more common than ...
- Ramadan Mubarak - Ramadan greetings (Mubarak equivalent to "blessings"). Less common in Egypt, something to do with a gentleman called Hosni.
- Salah / Salat - praying
- Salat Al Jama'a - communal prayers
- Sawm - abstinence or fasting
- Suhoor - the morning meal taken before the sun rises and the start of fasting during Ramadan
- Shurooq - early morning prayer
- Sunnah / Sunna - the way of the Prophet, meaning to follow his words and actions. Literally can be taken to mean custom, practice, or recommended.
- Taraweeh prayers - special evening prayers during Ramadan, after Isha, when the Quran is recited.
- Wudu - cleansing of the body when preparing for prayer
- Zakat - giving alms. It is especially important for Muslims to give Zakat during Ramadan.
Last update Monday 17-Sep-2012