Discover what to see and where to shop this Ramadan
A peaceful period of personal reflection and time spent with family, Ramadan is also a popular time for visitors to explore Dubai. The city's malls are well-equipped to welcome Muslims and non-Muslims alike, with respect to the introspective spirit of the month.
Dubai is a particularly special place to visit during Ramadan, with tourists and guests able to gain precious insight to one of the most important events on the Islamic calendar. The malls reflect the sense of occasion, with interiors festively decorated in lush drapes and gold accents, and a schedule of events and revised opening hours that benefit both tourists and residents.
Shopping mall opening hours
Most major malls continue to operate throughout Ramadan, with extended late-night operating hours to accommodate those fasting between sunrise and sundown. Most malls are open until 1am during the weekdays, extending until 2am on the weekends. Be sure to check their individual websites for full details. Some smaller boutiques and locally-owned businesses choose to close during daylight hours and reopen after sunset.
The majority of popular sights are still open to the public, albeit with small modifications and alternative hours. For example, The Dubai Fountain's midday show does not run during Ramadan, however the fountain's spectacular schedule continues as normal after dusk. Check the website of the specific landmarks you wish to visit, to see their Ramadan hours and options.
In honour of the season – which is also a peak time for gift and occasion shopping – a variety of retailers create one-off Ramadan offerings to meet shoppers’ demand. International fashion brands like Zara, Tommy Hilfiger and DKNY are known to release capsule collections for women and girls, featuring event-ready kaftans and beautifully printed trousers, skirts and light jackets. Most department stores, such as Bloomingdale’s at The Dubai Mall, also curate Ramadan edits to highlight the festive season’s must-have pieces.
Confectioners and chocolatiers will be sweetening the month with delicate, delicious creations that are perfect for gift-giving (or keeping all to yourself). Forrey & Galland is one such retailer – located in The Dubai Mall, its opulent store is a treasure trove of exquisitely wrapped boxes of chocolates and sweet dates stuffed with treats like marzipan, oranges, pistachio and cashew.
The spirit of giving
Ramadan is also a popular gift-giving period where family and friends present each other with tokens of their affection during nightly Iftars, and in the lead-up to the Eid celebration. Dubai's malls reflect this trend, with retailers offering special deals on popular present ideas, with handbags, watches, jewellery and gold, oud and other fragrances, gourmet dates and electronics all up for generous discounts.
Ramadan events at the malls
With extended trading hours and a higher volume of shoppers after dark, malls make Ramadan an extra-special experience with a calendar of events and exhibitions. Visitors can expect to find everything from exhibitions of traditional art and handicrafts to giveaways and special offers, which will be going on throughout the holy month. Some malls offer even bigger promotions in the run up to Eid Al Fitr, the celebration marking the end of Ramadan.
If you plan to visit The Dubai Mall with your children, treat them to a fun learning experience at Kidzania where they can role play a series of professions in a replica of a real city. They can work as firemen, doctors and police officers, or be an astronaut for a day at the KidZania Space Centre.
Dining options for non-Muslims
While many fast during daylight hours in Ramadan, there are still a multitude of options for non-Muslims, children and the elderly to choose from. Major malls including The Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates will continue to operate their food courts during the month from 12pm to close, with these areas discreetly sectioned off for complete privacy. Non-food court restaurants with mall entry will mostly open only for Iftar (after sunset) and Suhoor (before sunrise) hours, with the exception of hotel restaurants.
Following the evening call to prayer that marks sunset (Maghrib), Muslims will break their fast and enjoy the Iftar meal, usually with family. Restaurants and cafés within the malls re-open, and the majority offer specially-priced three or four course set menus for Iftar in addition to à la carte dining.