Ramadan 2024 in Abu Dhabi

How Ramadan is held in the UAE - traditions, dates and social life in Abu Dhabi during Ramadan.
Feb 27, 2024

Ramadan is one of the key events in the Islamic world, as this is a mandatory time for fasting for all believers, which lasts between 29-30 days. During the Holy Month, Muslims have to abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and intimacy during the daytime. We have prepared a special article, in which we will talk about how this time will affect public life in Abu Dhabi, and what benefits can be derived from it by guests and residents of the UAE.

About Ramadan in the UAE

The beginning and the end of Ramadan is determined according to the Muslim lunar calendar, in which the dates are shifted by 11 days every year. The UAE moon-sighting committee confirms the specific time of the Holy Month.

Ibrahim Al Jarwan, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Emirates Astronomical Society, stated that in 2024, the month of Ramadan will begin on March 11 and will end at sunset on April 9, followed by Eid al-Fitr on April 10.

The Holy Month is a time for the development of self-discipline and charity, as well as spiritual unity. Some believers often offer additional prayers and make a pilgrimage to Mecca, especially for the last 10 days of fasting.

Foreign citizens and tourists in the UAE are not obliged to observe the fast, but they must show respect for local traditions. According to Article 331 paragraph A of the UAE Criminal Code, it is prohibited for all citizens, residents and tourists of the country to eat, drink, smoke in public places and make any other action violating the fast.

Important! Since 1960, a cannon shot has been used to notify believers of the start of Iftar. In Abu Dhabi, cannons are installed at the Sheikh Zayed Mosque and in the Umm Al-Emarat Park.

Social life during Ramadan

During Ramadan, a number of strict restrictions are imposed on the consumption of food and water in public places throughout the country. The opening hours of all public, private companies and retail stores will be reduced, apart from in malls, where the opening hours are usually increased.

Important! During the period of Ramadan, all museums, amusement parks and other attractions of the UAE capital will operate normally.

The working hours of banks and shops

In accordance with the Labour Law, the working hours of employees in both the public and private sectors should be reduced by two hours during Ramadan. This rule applies to all officials, regardless of their religious affiliation.

During this period of fasting, banks will operate at a reduced capacity. Most local financial institutions will be open from 9:00 to 14:00, while some from 10:00 to 15:00. Branches located in large shopping centres may close later. For example, SAMA bank will be open from 10:00 to 16:00, while others may have more flexible timetables from 9:30 to 17:30.

Such a trend has affected most local stores and supermarkets. Facilities will be open from 10:00 to 12:00 and from 20:00 to 02:00 during Ramadan.

Food courts, cafes and restaurants

Over the past few years, the approach to organising Ramadan in the emirate of Abu Dhabi has become more liberal. The overwhelming majority of dining institutions switch to the evening mode of operation and are open for visitors from 19:00–21:00 to 22:00–02:00 during this period.

The most popular cafes and restaurants in Abu Dhabi that are open to non-Muslims during the daytime are Tamba (open daily from 12:00 to 04:00), Nahaam (open daily from 12:00 to 23:00 and Saturdays from 12:30 to 16:00), Beach House (open daily from 12:00 to 00:00) and Punjab Grill (open daily from 12:30 to 00:00).

Important! Restaurant opening hours throughout the Holy Month may vary.

During Ramadan, believers can consume only two main meals:

Suhur is a meal that traditionally includes water and dates, which are served until dawn.

Iftar is a meal after evening prayer, which may include dates, yoghurt, water, Middle Eastern meat dishes and sweets.

Tourists can also enjoy Suhur and Iftar. You can taste traditional dishes during Ramadan in the most popular restaurants of Abu Dhabi, including Al Khayal, Silk And Spice, Bab Al Qasr, Mykonos Abu Dhabi, Cyan Brasserie and Kamoon.

Important! It is recommended that tourists reserve seats in advance, because the largest influx of visitors in cafes and restaurants is observed during the evening.

Loud music is also not welcomed and there will be no live performances until the end of the Holy Month.

Sales during Ramadan

Malls in the UAE are the best places for holiday shopping. During Ramadan, many stores have special offers and discounts from 50-80% off of various goods, including clothing, shoes, souvenirs, home accessories, jewelry and more. Muslims are urged to avoid shopping during this period, while tourists and local non-Muslims can get great deals. The Ounsss electronics stores will give discounts of up to 80%, and Voga Closet clothing stores are offering up to 70% off. There will also be great deals at Sephora, West Elm, Hibobi, Mumzworld and many others.

Important! The opening hours of Abu Dhabi shopping complexes will also change during the Holy Month. Most establishments, with the exception of on-site supermarkets, will be open from 10:00-13:00 and 20:00-01:00.

The majority of local online stores also offer attractive promotions and discounts. You can find offers with a limited validity period and flash sales.

Every year, in the run-up to the holiday, the Abu Dhabi Co-operative Society (ADCOOPS) allocates funds for thousands of food and non-food products which will be sold in their retail stores at discounts ranging from 30% to 65%.

Visiting the UAE during Ramadan can prove to be a promising option for investors interested in acquiring property in the country, because many development companies offer significant discounts and perks for buyers during this period.