Dubai: The Department of Economic Development in Dubai (DED) has accorded permission to deliver food during Ramadan to more than 70 per cent of the restaurants in the emirate, a senior DED official told Gulf News.
Serving food in public during the fasting period in Ramadan is usually prohibited. However, restaurants that have received prior approval from DED can deliver food as per order any time before iftar, said Mesam Al Falasi, the head of the DED branch at Dubai Mall.
"Dubai restaurants are not allowed to serve food in public before iftar and breaking this rule may very well result in severe fines or closure of these restaurants," Al Falasi warned.
"DED is issuing permission for most of Dubai restaurants or coffee shops that want to deliver food before iftar throughout Ramadan," the official added.
"Over 70 per cent of Dubai restaurants will be given this permission for the coming Ramadan and we still have a lot of applications to be approved."
Al Falasi added: "Any restaurant or coffee shop that serves snacks can apply to DED to get this permission for a Dh5,060 fee. And those restaurants that are found violating the rules by delivering food without permission will face heavy penalties for this illegal practice on par with those for operating businesses without licence."
The official explained: "Ramadan can be a challenge for some, but Dubai is a city that brings people of different faiths and cultures closer. Thus, Muslims and non-Muslims alike should develop a new respect for this holy month."
While DED had granted permission to some restaurants last Ramadan to allow them to serve food before iftar, such permission had not been extended to any establishments this year, Al Falasi said.
"We did grant this permission to [a] few restaurants last year after designing certain decoration in the restaurant that would cover the dining area but this didn't work. We received many applications from different restaurants in Dubai offering better decorations, but all have been disapproved," the official added.
Al Falasi clarified, however, that all restaurants in Dubai would have the right to set up their table two hours before iftar.
He said the authorities don't intend to force people to fast and non-Muslims can eat and drink but not in public.
Eating and drinking in public during the daytime is forbidden and breaking this rule is not acceptable. "Far from religion, people should respect each other and appreciate their customs and traditions."
Ramadan is a special time that highlights the finest in Arabic Muslim tradition. We need to develop a better cultural understanding among various nationalities and cultures living side by side in peace and harmony in the UAE, Al Falasi said.