Ramadan in Dubai
Ramadan is one of the most important – and exciting – religious holidays in Dubai's calendar. As an emirate in a country where Islam is the official religion, Ramadan is celebrated throughout Dubai, with members of the Muslim community, expats and visitors alike encouraged to observe the holiday and its rituals. Read on to learn more about the season and how you can enjoy the experience in Dubai.
Understanding Ramadan, the most holy month in the Islamic calendar
Understanding the season
What is Ramadan?
The Islamic calendar’s major holiday, Ramadan is a time of reflection and piety, marking the lunar period in which the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) received his first revelations. For observers, this period is respected by increasing time spent in prayer, and with loved ones.
When is Ramadan held?
As it is based on the Islamic lunar calendar, the dates of Ramadan vary from year to year, but it is estimated to fall around 17th June – 17th July this year. The exact day is officially announced when the crescent moon of the ninth month (of the traditional Islamic calendar) rises, with this announcement followed by a public holiday. Ramadan lasts for approximately 30 days – or until the next new crescent moon has been sighted – before closing with the Eid al-Fitr holiday to break the fast in festive style.
How do Muslims observe Ramadan?
While different sects of Islam celebrate the holy month in different ways, there are several rituals that are consistently followed. Fasting between sunrise and sunset, regular prayer, and practising modest dress are all fardh (obligatory) among the faithful. Acts of charity are also often performed during the holiday, to demonstrate both graciousness and humility.
Do I need to fast?
Fasting is not required for non-Muslims. However, visitors are respectfully asked to be considerate of those who are practising by refraining from eating, drinking and smoking in public areas such as malls and beaches during daylight hours. But you don’t have to go hungry – for many restaurants, it is business as usual, with those establishments open for breakfast and lunch pulling down blinds to shield diners from public view.
What is an iftar and a suhoor?
These are the names given to meals taken outside fasting time during Ramadan: iftar occurs after sunset and suhoor before sunrise. Once the sun sets on a day of fasting, it’s a joyous occasion of eating and socialising. Most hotels and restaurants offer special iftar meals, most commonly a large spread of Middle Eastern mezze favourites such as hommus and falafel, and some traditional Emirati dishes such as baby camel, grilled sea-bass and halva (a dense Turkish-style dessert of seeds and honey), all washed down with rose-scented and date juices. Fruits, sweetened grains, yogurts and puddings are the main features of a suhoor meal, which is eaten just before sunrise. If you’re lucky enough to be invited back to an Emirati's home for an iftar or suhoor, be prepared to eat directly from your scooped right hand, and for a night of celebration that often lasts through to the early hours.
Are there any other events on during the season?
Visitors to Dubai are also invited to participate in a range of events to help celebrate the season. The Ramadan Night Market is a must-visit; a popular marketplace where Muslim families flock for Eid gifts and where non-Muslims can purchase anything from sweets to jewellery, handicrafts and perfume. There’s even henna painting, and roaming entertainers to keep your kids happy.
Dubai Corporation of Tourism & Commerce Marketing