[VIDEO] Do's and Don'ts During Ramadan in Dubai
Believe it or not, Ramadan in Dubai is one of our favorite times of year.
To a lot of expats living in the UAE who haven't experienced a Ramadan in Dubai, they might be slightly apprehensive as to the exact customs and traditions during the Holy Month as well as the do's and don'ts they need to be aware of.
While neither of us are religious ourselves, Ramadan provides a time of the year for us to really focus on ourselves, look inward to take a step back and appreciate all that we have. If you are new to Dubai you'll probably have some questions, which I hope we answer below.
DO - Dress Conservatively, Even More Than Usual
Dressing conservatively in Dubai is not something confined to the Holy Month, but during Ramadan in Dubai it is especially important to remember how you dress and to take the extra effort in making sure to not be inappropriate during this time of year. Cover your shoulders, wear less make up and remember this is the holiest time of the year in the Muslim faith.
DON'T - Eat, Drink or Smoke in Public
This is probably the biggest change that most expats will face and one they've all heard about the most. It is easiest the single biggest impact on normal life and pretty noticeable. All restaurants, coffee shops and grocery stores will go the extra mile to black out their windows and conceal their windows as to not show people eating or drinking.
Imagine being a Muslim fasting for 14 hours a day and having to see a bunch of people drinking coffee and munching on breakfast sweets - out of sight out of mind. That being said, while many places will look closed, many remain open an operate as normal.
DO - Join an Iftar, Ask Questions about Ramadan
Let's be honest, if you live as an expat in Dubai it can be very easy sometimes to even remember you live in a Muslim country as the city is so embracing and multi cultural. But take the time to go to an Iftar, the traditional feast signaling the breaking of the fast, which takes places every single night during Ramadan in Dubai. An Iftar is filled with amazing foods, laughter and music and is a special thing to experience living in Dubai.
Also, take the time to ask questions about Islam, Ramadan or anything else you are wondering. Like with many religions, Muslims are proud of their faith and love to share their beliefs and meanings behind their traditions. Don't be shy, ask questions, be respectful and broaden your view - I promise it will be worth it.
DON'T - Yell, Be Loud, Swear or Listen to Loud Music
Remember, this is the holy month, so don't be a jerk. Yelling, swearing or blasting music isn't appropriate any time of the year (and no matter where we are living we'd prefer this, your music is horrible!) You live in Dubai, which is more conservative than many cities, so watch your mouth and try not to offend anyone.
The Holy Month is a time of peace and reflection for Muslims, who take every opportunity to work on themselves, go the extra mile to be polite and are fasting all day - don't be a jerk.
DO - Give Back to Charity, Help Others
While there are 12 months in a year and we should all be looking for chances to help others all year long, a huge pillar of Islam is helping others and performing acts of charity. If you are new to Dubai or have been here for years, take the time to look for charitable events during Ramadan in Dubai or come up with something you can do, no matter how small, to focus on helping others instead of yourself - you'll feel better for doing it.
DON'T - Dance, Sing, Play Live Music in Public
As an expat in Dubai one of the biggest changes you'll notice is that no bars and clubs are open until after Iftar in the evenings. Don't worry, alcohol will still be served in the evenings but there will be no music, singing or dancing during daylight hours during the Holy Month.
But come on, we've been talking about taking the Holy Month to better yourself, take a month off drinking, Ramadan or not you could use it.
DO - Avoid Sheikh Zayed Road at Iftar Times
This one has nothing to do with Islam but instead the insane traffic that is caused when thousands of fasting people are in route to amazing Iftar's all around the city at the same time. Dubai is notorious for its traffic jams, but when you haven't eaten all day and endless spreads of the most delicious Arabic food awaits, you can believe there are extra cars on the road.
If you're American, imagine the night before Thanksgiving traffic happening every night for a month, you get the picture.
DON'T - Gossip or Bad Mouth People
Again, take Ramadan to make yourself a better person and cut out all the negatives from your life. No gossip around the water cooler, no complaining about the little things and no focusing on the things you cannot change.
Seriously pause when you get frustrated, think before you speak and ask yourself if whatever you're going to say is going to be positive, no? Then don't say it.
DO - Work on Yourself, Break a Bad Habit or Learn a Skill
And finally, take the reduced hours that we all (Muslim or not) receive during the Holy Month. With most employees receiving 2 hours less working hours, take the time to learn a skill, go to the gym, start a hobby or work on something you've wanted to do for a long time.
For Anne and I, we plan out our Ramadan in Dubai free time carefully between time spent together relaxing, extra time at the gym, special meals with friends, working on learning something new and writing more on this blog - all things we love!
If you're new to Dubai, enjoy this special time of the year, and if you've been here for years maybe you learned a thing or two from the post, or it inspired you to make a small change in your life this Holy Month.
Either way, Ramadan Kareem to all, have a safe, happy a prosperous month!