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Ramadan in UAE - Guide for Tourists


Page update - Sep 14, 2022

Ramadan is the holy month for Islam. How does it affect tourists? What are advantages and disadvantages of vacation during Ramadan? What restrictions? How do the prices for hotels and flights change? Read the answers in this review.

On November 8, 2020, important amendments to the UAE laws came into force. The amendments include rules for tourists during Ramadan. Details are below on this page.

Ramadan 2022 is over

This page was updated on September 14, 2022, and the holy month of Ramadan has already ended (May 1 was the last day of the month). Recall that the exact dates are determined by the lunar calendar and can change even on the last day. Eid al-Fitr (the holiday at the end of Ramadan) was held on May 2, 3, and 4.

Ramadan 2023 is scheduled for March 22 to April 21, 2023. Eid al-Fitr 2023 will be on April 22 and 23, which will be a Saturday and Sunday. The UAE days off will probably be moved, but it is not yet known exactly how. We'll be sure to let you know when the exact information will come.

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan (or Ramazan) is the 9th month of the lunar Islamic calendar. It is believed that during this month Allah began to impart the teachings of Islam to the prophet Mohammed, which were later compiled into the book of the Koran.

Muslims consider this to be the most blessed time of the year. As a companion of the Prophet Mohammed, al-Hurairah, said, "In Ramadan the gates of paradise open, the gates of hell are shut, and all demons are put in chains".

When is the month of Ramadan?

Recall that the months in the Islamic lunar calendar don't match with the months of the familiar Gregorian calendar. The month of Ramadan moves forward by about 10 days each year in our calendar.

A month in the Islamic lunar calendar lasts 29 or 30 days, depending on the phases of the moon.

Below is a table with the dates.

Year Islamic Year Beginning Ending
2020 1441 23 April 23 May
2021 1442 13 April 12 May
2022 1443 2 April 1 May
2023 1444 22 March 21 April
2024 1445 10 March 9 April

What Ramadan means to Muslims

Fasting during the month of Ramadan (fasting is called "saum") is one of the five pillars of Islam, the five acts of worship that every faithful Muslim must perform.

But Islamic fasting is not like Christian fasting. While Christians limit their diet, Muslims do not eat at all, but only from sunrise to sunset. Before sunrise it is allowed to eat, and that is called Suhur. After sunset, it is allowed to eat, and this meal is called Iftar.

From sunrise to sunset Muslims can neither eat, nor drink, nor smoke. The prohibition relates to any ingestion of anything, even chewing gum is forbidden. An interesting point is that taking water in the mouth during bathing is also a violation of the fast.

Fasting is mandatory for all adult Muslims, except for the sick, those on a difficult journey, pregnant women, lactating mothers, diabetics, menstruating women, and children under 12 years of age.

Any good deed or any sin when performed during Ramadan is multiplied. So, haggling with Muslims in this month is a useful thing to do.



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Restrictions for tourists in the UAE

Most Islamic countries do not have any law that obliges somebody to fast. But the UAE has such a law - it is the UAE Penal Code Article 313-A. It is forbidden for anyone, including tourists, to drink, eat or do anything that breaks the fast during the daytime hours of Ramadan.

The penalty is up to 1,000 dirhams fine or up to 1 month imprisonment. In practice, tourists are not punished under this article, at least such cases have not been mentioned in the press for a long time. The police usually only make explanations. If the offender does not listen, they can take him to the police station to sit for a while, to calm down, to think.

A very important note! The legal situation in the UAE is complicated with the Ramadan rules. On the one hand, Article 313 of the Criminal Code is in force! On the other hand, the rules are being violated everywhere. The UAE doesn't have enough police to be on duty at every corner to catch violators. Besides, the police have better things to do than catch tourists eating pie in the street. By the way, during Ramadan 2023, the police have taken up catching beggars.

We urge you not to break the law at all to reduce the chance of a fine to zero.

Since 2018, authorities in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi started a very interesting tradition. They mounted a cannon near the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. The cannon shot notifies people of the end of the fast. If you hear the shot, you can eat, drink, smoke. See the gun in the photo next to, click on the photo to enlarge.

In Dubai, there are usually five such guns. But in 2022, the Dubai Police set up 11 more cannons in different areas of Dubai City and in Hatta. Don't be surprised that the police are armed with artillery cannons. This is normal in the UAE.

Tourists are allowed to eat and drink during the day in a restaurant or cafe (behind closed doors), but some of the catering venues are closed during the day. Opened cafes and restaurants often close the tables with screens. In Dubai in Ramadan 2021 the screens are officially abolished.

Unpleasant news for those tourists who like to rent cars. It is forbidden to eat, drink, smoke even in private transport.

Previously, the law prohibited the sale of alcohol during Ramadan. Only in the Emirate of Dubai some bars received a special license and poured alcohol. Amendments on November 8, 2020 removed the ban on alcohol during Ramadan. However, each emirate has the right to set its own local bans.

The dress code does not change in Ramadan, read about the dress code in our review "Laws for tourists in the UAE". However, the strictness of control increases. If in any other month, the police or security guard would not pay attention to too deep cleavage, but in Ramadan they may show displeasure and ask to change clothes.

Cultural sights operate on a reduced schedule, usually with a long break in the middle of the day. In the last 10 days of the month they may close at all or work a couple of hours a day.

Entertainment and fun is not welcome. Live music disappears from restaurants, discos don't work, and some amusement parks stop working.

There is no single law or rule for the opening hours of parks and museums. Each park or museum decides this issue individually. Read our pages about attractions in the UAE, where we detail the opening hours of each site, including during Ramadan.

Other features

Once the sun goes down, it is allowed to eat. However, it often becomes even more difficult to eat. Many restaurants are fully packed, some are busy serving public tables and iftar tents. You may nor find a seat or wait for the order for a very long time.

People rush home for family iftar dinners, some rush to the restaurant to have dinner with friends. Traffic during the first hour after sunset is terrible. In addition, Muslim drivers are tired after a day without water and food, and number of accidents in this first hour after sunset goes up.



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Iftar tables and tents

Large tables and tents are set up near mosques for iftar (evening meals). The food is free of charge at these tables. In 2013, a record-breaking one-kilometer-long table was set up near the Al-Noor Mosque in the Emirate of Sharjah. The table accommodated 2,500 people.

In 2021, iftar tables and tents in the UAE were banned by the authorities. This was a measure against the spread of the coronavirus. In 2022 the tents were allowed again, but with strict restrictions.

Is it worth traveling to the UAE during Ramadan?

Travel to the UAE during the month of Ramadan has both advantages and disadvantages. We have already talked about the negatives in detail, now let's note the positives.

The main positive side is the price decrease. Hotels at this time are filled poorly, and hoteliers are trying to attract tourists with discounts. Discounts of up to 50% during Ramadan are normal.

The second advantage is a low load of hotels. There are free rooms in almost any hotel, you can check-in even today.

If all you need are only sea, sun and beach, then think. If in other months, a five-star hotel on the first line was too expensive, then in Ramadan the price may be quite acceptable. The ban on eating, smoking, and drinking does not apply in hotels.

In addition to the holy month, Islam has a holy day of the week - Friday, which has its own features for tourists. Read our review "Friday in the UAE".

Have a good holiday in the UAE, and read our interesting and useful pages about this country (see the list of pages below).

TIPS

Tips for Tourists in the UAE

IMPORTANT FOR TOURISTS

What to Take for the UAE

What You Should Not Do in the UAE

To the UAE with Kids

Sharks in the UAE

Weather in the UAE by Month

Holidays in the UAE

Are Unmarried Young Women
Allowed to Enter the UAE?

All-Inclusive in the UAE

Power Sockets & Voltage in the UAE

Hotels in the UAE with Own Beach

GENERAL INFORMATION

The UAE - Info, Facts, Figures

What Language is Spoken in the UAE

Population and Citizens of the UAE

History of the UAE

Flag of the UAE

Friday and Weekend in the UAE

Ramadan in the UAE

Sheikh Zayed - Father of Nation

Sheikhs of the UAE

GIFTS AND CUSTOMS LAW

What to Bring from the UAE

What You Can and Not Bring In the UAE

What You Can and Not Take Out the UAE

VAT Refund in the UAE

Shopping in the UAE - Why is Cheap

Date Fruits in the UAE

Camel Milk and Dairy Products

Bakhoor and Oud

MONEY AND EXPENSES

Money in the UAE - Emirati Dirham

Currency Exchange in the UAE

How Much Money to Take to the UAE

Food Prices in the UAE

Tourist Taxes in the UAE

Alcohol in the UAE

Cigarettes and Smoking in the UAE

Vape and iQos in the UAE

TRANSPORT

Dubai Metro - Fares and Map

Taxi in the UAE - Fares and Guide

NOL Transport Card Dubai

Dubai Tram

Dubai Monorail

Buses in the UAE

FROM AIRPORT TO CITY

From Dubai Airport (DXB) to City

From Al Maktoum Airport (DWC) to City

From Abu Dhabi Airport (AUH) to City

From Sharjah Airport (SHJ) to City

TRIPS BETWEEN EMIRATES

From Dubai to Abu-Dhabi

Free Buses Dubai - Abu-Dhabi

From Sharjah to Dubai

From Ras Al-Khaimah to Dubai

From Ajman to Dubai

From Fujairah to Dubai

From Umm Al-Quwain to Dubai

TELECOM

Internet in the UAE

Cheap Calls from the UAE

Free SIM-card in Dubai

UAE Phone Codes

EMIRATES

Dubai

Deira

Bur Dubai

Dubai Marina

Jumeirah

Downtown

TOP Attractions in Dubai

Beaches in Dubai

Abu Dhabi

Al Ain

Yas Island

Beaches in Abu Dhabi

Sharjah

Beaches in Sharjah

Ajman

Ras Al Khaimah

Umm Al Quwain

Fujairah

ATTRACTIONS IN THE UAE

Best Attractions in the UAE

Free Attractions in the UAE

DUBAI

Burj Khalifa

Dubai Fountain

Excursions in Dubai

How to Save on Entertainment in Dubai

DUBAI MALL

The Best in Dubai Mall

Dubai Aquarium

Candylicious in Dubai Mall

Waterfall in Dubai Mall

DUBAI DEIRA

Gold Market in Dubai

Al Mamzar Beach and Park

Deira Clock Tower

City Centre Deira Mall

JUMEIRAH DISTRICT

Burj Al Arab

Wild Wadi Water Park

Jumeirah Mosque

Dubai Marina Mall

Madinat Jumeirah

Jumeirah Beach

PALM JUMEIRAH

Aquaventure

The Lost Chambers

Dolphin Bay

Palm Fountains

The View at the Palm

DUBAI PARKS AND RESORTS

LEGOLAND

MOTIONGATE

LEGOLAND Water Park

BLUEWATERS ISLAND

Ain Dubai

Madame Tussauds

BUR DUBAI

The Dubai Frame

Dubai Dolphinarium

Al Fahidi Fort Museum

Museum of the Future

DUBAI - SOUTH-EAST

Global Village

Miracle Garden

Butterfly Garden

IMG Worlds of Adventure

MALL OF THE EMIRATES

Mall of the Emirates

Ski Dubai

ABU DHABI CITY

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Louvre Abu Dhabi

Emirates Palace

Observation Deck at 300

Sheikh Zayed Memorial

Heritage Village

Corniche Waterfront

Sir Bani Yas

YAS ISLAND

Ferrari World

Formula Rossa

Galleria Ferrari

Warner Bros Park

Yas WaterWorld

Yas Marina & Formula 1

Yas Mall

SHARJAH

Sharjah Fountains

Sharjah Aquarium

Museum of Islamic Civilization

Al Noor Mosque

Mega Mall

AJMAN

Ajman Fish Market

Ajman Fort and Museum

City Centre Ajman Mall

UMM AL QUWAIN

DreamLand Water Park

NATIONAL CUISINE

Emirati Cuisine - What to Taste

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