For visitors to Dubai, the opportunity to experience the Islamic culture firsthand is a great honour, especially during the holy month of Ramadan. Contrary to popular belief, it can turn out to be the best time to visit Dubai as it’s their low season month in terms of travel, with ample discounts and great sales to be had in all the malls. In a nutshell, Ramadan is the holy Islamic month during which Muslims abstain from pleasure and indulgence, from sunrise to sundown with participants not eating or drinking during daylight hours. While the exact dates for Ramadan are calculated by the phases of the moon and are therefore subject to change on the sightings of the different phases, the dates are tentatively set from 20th July to 19th August 2012. Travelers to Dubai over this time will have the opportunity to experience firsthand the special annual ceremonies and celebrations that devout Muslims in the area and adhere to.
- No eating, drinking or smoking between sunrise (fajr) and sunset (maghrib);
- Curb undesirable emotions such as anger, greed, lust and envy and abstain from gossiping;
- Be charitable and help those in need;
- Keep thoughts and actions pure and use the time of fasting for spiritual contemplation;
- Visit and spend time with family and friends.
For visitors to Dubai during Ramadan, these rules and obligations must also be observed when out in public, as it is considered offensive to break them. If you are travelling with a child or are hungry yourself, it is best to be very discreet about eating in public. In shopping malls, the food courts are usually blocked from view so that people may eat but will be doing so unobserved by passersby. Restaurants in the majority of hotels remain open to service the non Muslim tourists. Visitors to Dubai or ex-pats living there are also asked to dress more demurely during the Ramadan period, with shoulders and legs covered.
On a lighter note and of particular interest, should you be travelling during this time, Ramadan Mubarak and Ramadan Kareem are congratulatory greetings used on the first day of Ramadan, when the holy month is announced. The meal enjoyed just before sunrise is called the “suhoor” while “iftar” is the time of the evening meal just after sunset and it traditionally a light snack of dates and water. When the new moon is sighted in the sky, the festivities begin. This marks the end of Ramadan and is called Eid Al Fitr. Women decorate their hands with henna patterns, gifts are exchanged, combined with dancing and celebrating continues long into the night.
For the shopaholic looking for out of the ordinary discounts, it is during the Ramadan that discounts are offered by souks, shopping malls, and other shopping areas. If you are looking for a bargain this is a great time to make your way to Dubai, have your credit cards ready, you’re comfortable walking shoes on and be prepared to shop till you drop. Another thing to bear in mind is that most of the malls will stay open until very late at night, and sometimes until the early hours of the morning. What more could you ask for?
Ramadan in Dubai allows travelers not familiar with the Islamic culture the opportunity to learn more about their fascinating customs and provide them with a better understanding of the local Emirati people. Centre’s such as the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) see www.cultures.ae, provide great background knowledge and education to people of other cultures visiting Dubai, with talks and lectures on the Muslim culture and even the opportunity to visit one of the most beautiful mosques in the Middle East, namely the Jumeirah Mosque, and they are offering special Ramadan experiences during this holy month.
For further information regarding Ramadan and Dubai; please contact the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing on firstname.lastname@example.org or (011) 702 9600.