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Visiting Dubai during Ramadan - What you need to know


There is a common misconception that holidays to Dubai and other Muslim countries are off limits during Ramadan. But that’s not the case.

The holy month is a wonderful time to visit Dubai, and this world-famous tourism hotspot welcomes holidaymakers with open arms.

If you’ve already booked your Dubai holiday without realising it coincides with Ramadan 2018, fear not; we guarantee you’ll still have the time of your life.

Ramadan in Dubai

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar and is the time when Muslims believe that God (Allah) first revealed the Koran (the Islamic holy book) to the Prophet Muhammad.

Muslims observe Ramadan by fasting during daylight hours. This involves abstaining from food and drink from sunrise to sunset. The idea is to reach a heightened sense of spirituality and feel closer to God.

Islam follows a lunar calendar and in 2018, Ramadan is expected to take place from May 15th until June 14th.

To mark the end of a month of sacrifices, Muslims then celebrate Eid Al Fitr. Celebrations, colourful parades and breathtaking firework displays are just a few things we love about the festival of Eid.

Useful phrases and greetings to use during Ramadan

There are a few easy Arabic phrases you can learn beforehand to help you during your time in Dubai. Why not try and impress with a few of these simple greetings?

“Ramadan Mubarak” OR “Blessed Ramadan” – Rah-mah-dan Moo-Ba-Rak

“Ramadan Kareem” OR “Noble Ramdan” – Rah-mah-dan Kah-reem

“As-salamu alaykum” (Ahs-sah-lam-oo ah-lay-kum) ) is a typical Muslim greeting, to which you can reply “Wa-Alaikum-Salaam” (Wah-ah-lay-kum-sa-lam).

Ramadan etiquette

Muslims follow certain rules during Ramadan, including abstaining from eating and drinking, observing modest behaviour and refraining from negatives thoughts and actions. While non-Muslims are not required to fast, it is polite to adhere to local customs and respect the culture.

Here are some quick tips to follow:

  • Avoid eating or drinking in public; instead make your way to designated areas found across the city
  • Try to dress conservatively and cover up where possible. This is especially important if you are visiting a mosque or a religious monument. You won’t be expected to cover up at Dubai’s waterparks or beaches, but choosing a more modest bathing suit is recommended
  • Don’t listen to loud music
Ramadan in Dubai

Eating, drinking and going out in Dubai

Many restaurants and cafes stay open during the daylight hours in Ramadan, discreetly serving meals behind screens or in designated areas. Some hotels and resorts will continue to serve or offer a separate lounge where you can enjoy a meal.

Check with your hotel to confirm their food and drink policy during the month. Your hotel will be able to recommend the best places to dine.

Most malls operate extended opening hours during the month to accommodate for the late night shopping and socialising. During the day some food courts and restaurants will cater to non-fasting visitors.

Do note that most nightclubs stay closed during Ramadan, while many establishments halt live music performances.

Iftar – Ramadan in Dubai

Iftar is the name given to the meal Muslims enjoy after sunset and is a wonderful time to enjoy the spirit of Ramadan.

Many grand resorts host fabulous feasts and invite all guests to join in with the festivities. If you fancy yourself as a foodie you may well be in your element.

Head to an Iftar banquet for tantalising dishes and meze from all over the Middle East, including hummus, spicy lamb kofta kebabs, falafel, halloumi and shawarma.

As for dessert, be sure to save room for baklava. The sweet and sticky treat is a Middle Eastern favourite, made of filo pastry, syrup and chopped nuts.

Transport and tourist attractions

Much like New York, Dubai is a city that never sleeps.

Most tourist attractions stay open throughout Ramadan, including the Burj Khalifa, the Burj Al Arab, the Wild Wadi Waterpark, Aquaventure Waterpark and the Mall of the Emirates.

As for transport, travel services do run but often operate on an alternative timetable. For instance the monorail may start its service a little later or finish earlier.

Ramadan in Dubai

Five great reasons to visit Dubai during Ramadan

If you’re still unsure about taking a holiday to Dubai during Ramadan, here are five reasons to do so:

1. Scrumptious cuisine and grand evening banquets

Dubai comes alive when the sun sets! Expect a grand feast fit for a sultan at one of the many Iftar banquets held in Dubai’s many luxury resorts.

2. Fantastic value for money

Ramadan is one of the most cost-effective times of year to visit Dubai. Flight and hotel prices are often very low.

3. You can discover a more traditional Dubai and delve deep into the culture

Why not embark on your own spiritual journey? While nobody expects you to fast, you may find peace and enlightenment by observing Dubai’s Muslim residents.

4. Eid celebrations

Time your holiday to coincide with the tail end of Ramadan to experience Dubai’s Eid al-Fitr celebrations.

Eid marks the end of Ramadan and the breaking of the fast, meaning spectacular fireworks, parties and parades. The festival of Eid can sometimes last for days!

5. Guaranteed hot weather

Sun worshippers will want to flock to Dubai during Ramadan.

Ramadan 2018 lands at the start of summer, meaning the heat will easily reach the mid to high thirties. However, take every necessary step to protect yourself from heatstroke and sunburn by staying hydrated and applying a higher factor of sun cream.

For more information, or to see a selection of luxury holidays to the Middle East, check out our Dubai holiday guide.