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 2023 the month of Ramadan will begin on March 23 and end on April 21, which will be the first day of the Eid al-Fitr holiday. At the beginning of the Holy Month, the duration of fasting will be approximately 13.5 hours and by the end of Ramadan will increase to 14 hours and 13 minutes.
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, UAE banks will continue to work in a reduced mode. The majority of the local credit and financial institutions will be open from 9:00 to 14:00, while some branches in large shopping malls may close at a later time. For instance, CBI bank branches will be open from Saturday to Thursday from 9:00 to 14:00, but branches located in shopping malls will be open from Saturday to Thursday from 10:00 to 15:00 and from 21:00 to 00:00.
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.
Some food courts, cafes and restaurants will be open to tourists and non-Muslims in the emirate. Establishments on the territory of hotels and shopping malls will also receive visitors during the day and until early morning. The most popular dining institutions in the UAE capital, open to non-Muslims during the daytime, include Al Meylas (opening hours — from 09:00 to 01:00), LOCA (opening hours — from 12:00 to 02:00), Aquarium (opening hours — from 13:00 to 02:00), Diablitos (opening hours — from 12:00 to 00:00), Brunch & Cake (opening hours — from 09:00 to 23:30), Cafe Milano (opening hours — from 12:00 to 00:00), Beach House (opening hours — from 12:00 to 00:00), Punjab Grill (opening hours — from 12:30 to 00:00), Alba Terrace (opening hours — from 12:00 to 23:00), etc.
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.
The majority of the local bars and pubs will also be open after sunset, but individuals can purchase and consume alcoholic beverages only indoors. Loud music is also not welcome and there will be no live performances until the end of the Holy Month.
Sales during Ramadan
UAE shopping malls are the best places for holiday shopping, because there are special offers and discounts of up to 50–75% on various groups of goods, including clothing, home accessories, souvenirs, shoes and jewellery during Ramadan. Several exclusive lines and limited collections of goods from world-famous brands such as Tory Burch, Guerlain, Max Mara, Sisley, D&G Beauty and Jswair will be presented in Abu Dhabi shopping malls.
Important! The opening hours of Abu Dhabi shopping complexes will also change during the Holy Month. Most local establishments, with the exception of supermarkets located on their territory, will be open from 10:00–11:00 to 01:00–02:00.
The majority of local online stores also offer attractive promotions and discounts. You can find offers with a limited validity period and flash sales.
On the eve of the holiday, Abu Dhabi Co-operative Society (ADCOOPS) allocated AED 70,000,000 (USD 19,000,000) for 25,000 food and non-food products, which will be sold in 58 retail stores at a discount of 30% to 65%. In addition, ADCOOPS intends to provide more than 65,000 food baskets during Ramadan, each of which includes 17–20 items. Their retail value will constitute AED 99–199 (USD 27–54).
A visit to the UAE during Ramadan can also be a promising solution for investors interested in acquiring property in the country, because many development companies offer significant discounts and bonuses for buyers throughout this period. Contact the representatives of Metropolitan Capital Real Estate LLC in order to choose a high-quality residence that fully meets your goals and budget. Our team of highly-skilled professionals offer full support in the process of buying, selling or renting real estate in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. We are ready to provide you with comprehensive documentary and legal assistance, as well as assistance in obtaining a mortgage.
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