During Ramadan people are restricted from eating or drinking in public till after Iftar. Non-Muslims do not follow this practice, however.

Gulf News interviewed some of them and checked whether their daily lives are affected and in what way. Most of those interviewed agreed that they share the feelings of Muslims during Ramadan and respect the rituals and religious performances.

Emanuel Kevin Samuel, an Indian expatriate, said: "As an expatriate living and working in Dubai I have to abide by the rules. Thus, when it comes to not eating or drinking in public places, I guess it becomes a problem. But I admire and respect Muslims for their piety.

"A few months back I had a kidney stone operation and the doctors ordered me to drink two litres of water per day. So I have to be cautious during Ramadan, especially when I am in public places, where I have to respect others' feelings and rituals and never drink or eat in front of them."

Donna Baran, an American businesswoman, told Gulf News that she respects restrictions of not eating or drinking in public. "I think that I am going to try fasting with the people of the UAE during Ramadan. I'd love to experience these religious rituals," she said.

Hilda Sembrano, a Filipino housewife and mother of one, said: "During Ramadan our lifestyle and daily life isn't affected. No major changes take place. We respect this religious culture and benefit from it also. My husband is a smoker and during Ramadan he stops smoking all day till around six. That's a healthy benefit.

"Not eating or drinking in public during Ramadan changes life totally all over the country and we, as expatriates, have to abide by and respect both the religion and culture."

Nathalie Fernandes, an Indian secretary, explained: "No major changes take place now since we got used to it. I respect Islam and respect also people who fast and perform their rituals. Since I don't fast, my daily life isn't affected. As adults we could bear the restrictions, but I realise that children and youngsters face some difficulty."

Dani Sarraff, a Lebanese expatriate residing in Dubai for less than a year, said: "I experienced this in Saudi Arabia before, where I worked for several years. My daily life wasn't affected at all; on the contrary, I am the kind of person who respects all religions.

"Not eating or drinking in public forces people to learn about other religions and cultures. It is a great thing to share with Muslims their experience."