The United Arab Emirates, the country in which Dubai and Abu Dhabi are located, is an Islamic country and that means that, like many Muslims, the Ramadan festival is celebrating worldwide. Ramadan is the period of fasting within the Islamic faith and takes place annually on different dates. During Ramadan, Muslims are expected not to eat, drink and smoke between sunrise and sunset. Muslims are also expected to abstain from sexual intercourse. Lying, swearing, bad talking and cursing during Ramadan are also extra bad. Children, pregnant women and the sick people do not have to take part in Ramadan.
Ramadan is a real feast for Muslims. It is a period that is dedicated to Muslims for togetherness, reverence and reflection.
During the Ramadan, Muslims often pray extra, resulting in extra crowds at the many mosques in Dubai. At the end of Ramadan one traditionally celebrates the Sugar Festival (id-oel-fitr). The Sugar Festival is the festival that heralds the end of Ramadan and is always celebrated with family and friends.
Because Ramadan is only allowed to eat and drink during Ramadan before and after sunset, Ramadan ensures the necessary changes in the public life of the residents of Dubai. Something that you as a tourist should take into account. The working hours are different and during the day it is noticeably less crowded on the street. Government agencies in the city often close their doors at 2 pm and many restaurants and bars are closed during the day. The mosques are more crowded and many shopping centers are open longer during Ramadan, often until midnight.
If you travel to Dubai as a non-Muslim, you are not expected to participate in Ramadan, but you are expected to respect the Muslims who are busy with Ramadan. This mainly means that you do not eat, drink or smoke in public.
Food and drink during Ramadan
During Ramadan, it is legally forbidden to eat, drink and / or smoke in public during the day. As a non-Muslim, this is an important point to take into account if you are staying in Dubai during Ramadan. Are you not a Muslim and you live in Dubai or are you on holiday, then you can eat and drink during the day. But you are expected to do this in privacy of, for example, your (hotel) room, the toilet of a public place or your house or apartment.
Many restaurants are closed during the day during Ramadan. The various food courts and restaurants in the major shopping centers in Dubai such as the Dubai Mall can be open during the day Usually they are screened off with large screens at the entrance so that Muslims who participate in Ramadan can not look inside and see the eating people. Are you looking for food during Ramadan, then you can go to various roadside restaurants, these are usually just open during Ramadan. The supermarkets are also open daily so you can go here for your food and drinks.
Eating and drinking after sunset
When the sun goes down, all restaurants in Dubai open their doors again and all Muslims can eat and drink. As a non-Muslim you can eat and drink in public after sunset. Please note that some restaurants only open their doors an hour after sunset to give the staff the time to eat themselves.
The meal served after sunset is also called an Iftar meal. Many restaurants have a special Iftar meal on the menu during Ramadan. If you are in Dubai during Ramadan, we recommend you to order one such Iftar meal at a restaurant. Often the Iftar meal is offered in the form of a buffet so that you can choose which dishes you take.
During the fixed month the bars and clubs in Dubai are usually open, but often the music is less loud. Performances with artists and DJs and live music in bars and clubs are very limited during Ramadan.
Holiday to Dubai during Ramadan?
We regularly get the question whether you as a non-Muslim have to go on holiday to Dubai during the Ramadan period. Whether you actually have to go is a consideration that you ultimately have to make yourself, we can only advise you and can not answer the question completely for you.
The fact is that you can not get around Ramadan if you are on holiday in Dubai during the fasting month. If you are in Dubai during Ramadan, you have to take into account, for example, that you are not allowed to eat and drink in public during the day. Also, many restaurants are closed during the day or there are large screens in front of the windows and doors of the restaurants so that Muslims who are busy with Ramadan can not see that you are eating inside. Do you find this annoying? Then we advise you not to go on holiday to Dubai during Ramadan. If you do not object to this, you can go to Dubai on holiday without any problems to experience the Ramadan up close.
Dates of Ramadan
The Ramadan fasting month is based on the monthly calendar. In contrast to the normal calendar, this monthly calendar has no 365 days (366 for a leap year), but 354 days. Because of this difference, the date of Ramadan changes annually by about 11 days compared to our calendar.
The exact starting date of Ramadan depends on the position of the moon. As a result, the exact date of Ramadan can only be determined with certainty a few days before the start. However, it is possible to estimate when Ramadan starts roughly. For the coming years, the likely starting dates of Ramadan are as follows:
May 6, 2019
April 24, 2020
April 13, 2021
April 3, 2022
March 23, 2023
March 11, 2024
March 1, 2025
Ramadan in Dubai
Do you want more information about Ramadan in Dubai? Then you can take a look at the website of Time Out Dubai where all parties and activities around Ramadan are mentioned. You also can read the website at Visit Dubai for more information about Ramadan in Dubai.