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Ramadan in Dubai for Non-Muslims

Some of More than2,000 Muslims of different nationalities break their fast with Iftar, the Ramadan evening meal for free at the Sheik Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, UAE president's Ramadan tent in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Some of More than2,000 Muslims of different nationalities break their fast with Iftar, the Ramadan evening meal for free at the Sheik Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, UAE president's Ramadan tent in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
The religious month of Ramadan is marked by fasting and prayer and holds great importance for Islam followers. During this month Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, sex and other vices from sunrise to sunset to achieve higher levels of patience, spirituality and humility.
Dubai being a pre-dominantly Muslim populated Emirate; the significance of the religious month can be experienced in all spheres of daily life whether in social, business, entertainment and cultural aspects. Working hours and lifestyles change and in totality the whole city transforms into a more serene mood of religious commitment. Dusk follows the breaking of the fast known as Iftar after which various Ramadan related events are held at social meeting venues. A Non-Muslim is not expected to follow the religious practices during Ramadan; however he is surely counted upon to respect the sentiments of participating Muslims.
People pass by an Islamic exhibition set up for the holy month of Ramadan at the Mall of the Emirates in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (AP / Kamran Jebreili)
People pass by an Islamic exhibition set up for the holy month of Ramadan at the Mall of the Emirates in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (AP / Kamran Jebreili)
To avoid offending the sentiments of Muslims one must be alert of their behavior during the month.  Here are some tips for Non-Muslims to be followed during the month of Ramadan
  • In public places, behave and dress in a conservative manner to respect the religious observances followed during Ramadan. Women should avoid wearing short skirts and cover their knees. It is appreciated if they wear long sleeves.
  • It is illegal to consume meat, drink or smoke in public and if found guilty it could lead to serious consequences. Even chewing gum is seen as an offence. Most restaurants will be closed during the day, but hotels will have contained spaces to serve food. Supermarkets and malls remain open during the day assuming no food or drink is consumed in public.
  • Children, pregnant women, medically unfit people, and those fighting in the battle are not expected to fast.
  • Greet Muslims by saying 'Ramadan Kareem' or 'Ramadan Mubarak' during Ramadan
  • Be polite enough to attend an Iftar meal. Check local newspaper and TV channels for Iftar meal timings that change by one minute every day.
  • Live music is barred, thus avoid functions in noisy environments whether at home or office, including dance clubs.
  • Working hours are shorter during Ramadan. Government offices close at 2 pm while private sector office practices work for two hours less.
  • Practice some charitable work by donating money, etc to the needy.

Restaurants for Non-Muslims available in Dubai during Ramadan

Many Non-Muslims find it difficult to locate restaurants that serve during the day. Here a list that may be of some help
  • Supermarket that serve ready to go meals such as pies, salads, sandwiches, snacks etc
  • Take away from fast food outlets of Burger King and McDonalds
  • Limited outlets of Coffee shops and Cafes
  • Restaurants, food outlets and coffee shops at Dubai Airport, Dubai Festival City, Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC), Dubai Internet City, Dubai Knowledge Village, Dubai Media City
  • Takeaways at Mall of the Emirates, Ibn Batuta Mall and the Dubai Mall
  • International cuisine restaurants include: Bistro Madeleine, Café Arabesque, Casa Mia, Epicure, Kisaku, Market Café, Planet Hollywood, Asha's, Medzo, Mahi Mahi, Sukhothai, Wox, Sumo Sushi, Ewaan, Cactus Cantina, Café Sushi, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Mediterraneo, Mercurries, More Café, Wagamama, Zuma, Bussola, Certo, Karam Beirut, Noodle House, Sezzam, Toscana, Zheng He’s

Those who wish to savour traditional Iftar meals/buffets could do so at:
  • Boulvar Restaurant
  • Shabestan
  • The Lobby Café
  • Mediterraneo restaurant at Armani Hotel Dubai
  • "At The Top" observation deck at Burj Khalifa
  • Asateer Arabian tent at Atlantis Hotel
  • Atrium restaurant
  • KGrill
  • Ramadan Nights At The Terrace
  • Ping Pong
  • All the star rated hotels in Dubai.

Whether one is Muslim or Non-Muslim it is essential that we learn to respect other religion’s feelings. Dubai is a progressive emirate among all, embracing all tourists and expatriates with warmth and providing them their religious space. However, it is not to be forgotten that the UAE is an Islamic country where their religion and followings are strictly adhered to. Visiting Dubai during the Ramadan period may not seem to a feasible idea for many tourists, but if you want to explore the spiritual nuances of Islam then this is the right time regardless of your beliefs.

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