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Ramadan 2018: 7 etiquette tips for non-Muslims in the UAE

Check out our Ramadan etiquette tips for visitors to the UAE as well as other Muslim countries

Image Credit: Istock

As long as you are respectful of the traditions of a Muslim country during Ramadan, and follow UAE laws and regulations - you should be fine. However, here are some specific do's and don'ts for non-Muslims spending Ramadan in the UAE. 


1. No eating, drinking or smoking in public

Do not eat, drink or smoke in public during fasting hours. This applies to all public places, and public and private transportation. Public observance of the fast is compulsory regardless of religion.


2. No revealing clothes 

Visitors should refrain from wearing revealing clothing out of respect to those observing Ramadan. This is particularly important when visiting malls, hotels and restaurants or iftar tents in the evening. As a general rule, clothing that is sheer, too short, low-cut or tight-fitting should be avoided, particularly shorts, mini-skirts and sleeveless tops.

Jumeirah mosque in Dubai illuminated for Ramadan.


3. Workplace etiquette

Business travellers should respect the shorter office hours and work around them. When having business meetings with Muslims, it is best to schedule them in the morning when people are less tired and can better concentrate. Make sure meetings do not occur over lunch, over-run or inconvenience fasting participants.

While non-Muslims are permitted to eat and drink behind closed doors, they should avoid doing so in front of those fasting and should instead excuse themselves to a more remote area of the office.


4. Scheduling food and entertainment

Be flexible with your food and entertainment plans. Avoid unnecessary travel within an hour of sunset, as traffic will be heavy and accident rates peak. Avoid making dinner reservations around that time, as most restaurants will be busy preparing or serving iftar.

In many places, live music entertainment is prohibited, dance clubs are closed, and bars are kept dry. Shopping malls are usually very crowded in the evening, and many tourist activities are put on hold throughout Ramadan.


5. Avoid public display of affection 

Public display of affection is generally considered indecent and more so during Ramadan. 


6. Do enjoy the Ramadan night markets

One of the best things about Ramadan here are the night markets and pop-up souks that are great community events to be at. With food, traditional souvenirs, lots of shopping opportunities and more, these markets are a lot of fun with family and friends.


7. Be charitable and friendly

Ramadan is a time of gratitude and charity, and it won't hurt to be part of it in some way, however small. Invite your lesser fortunate acquaintances home to break their fast or stock up on food and water to place in fridges placed across the city. 

Here's our guide on Ramadan resolutions for the year - and these you can adopt as life resolutions no matter what your religious affiliations are.

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