The Holy Month is a wonderful time to visit Abu Dhabi, and this sensational destination welcomes holidaymakers with open arms.
If you’ve already booked your Abu Dhabi holiday without realising it coincides with Ramadan, don’t worry; we guarantee you’ll still have the time of your life.
Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar and is the time when Muslims believe God (Allah) revealed the Koran (the Islamic holy book) to the Prophet Muhammad.
Muslims observe Ramadan by fasting during daylight hours. This involves not eating or drinking. The idea is to reach a heightened sense of spirituality and feel closer to God.
Islam follows a lunar calendar, so therefore Ramadan takes place on different dates each year. This year, Ramadan is expected to be from May 6th until June 4th.
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.
There are a few easy Arabic phrases you can learn beforehand to help you during your time in Abu Dhabi. 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).
As well as abstaining from eating and drinking, Muslims also follow other rules during Ramadan, including 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 Abu Dhabi’s waterparks or beaches, but choosing a more modest bathing suit is recommended
Don’t listen to loud music
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 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.
Most tourist attractions in Abu Dhabi stay open throughout Ramadan, while travel services do run but often operate on an alternative timetable.
If you’re still unsure about taking a holiday to Abu Dhabi during Ramadan, here are four reasons to do so:
1. Scrumptious cuisine and grand evening banquets
Expect a grand feast fit for a sultan at the Iftar banquets held in Abu Dhabi’s many luxury resorts.
2. Fantastic value for moneyRamadan is one of the most cost-effective times of year to visit Abu Dhabi. Flight and hotel prices are often very low.
3. You can discover a more traditional Abu Dhabi and delve deep into the cultureWhy not embark on your own spiritual journey? While nobody expects you to fast, you may find peace and enlightenment by observing Abu Dhabi’s Muslim residents.
4. Eid celebrations
Time your holiday to coincide with the tail end of Ramadan to experience Abu Dhabi’s Eid al-Fitr celebrations.
Eid marks the end of Ramadan and the breaking of the fast, meaning spectacular fireworks, parties and parades.