What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar. Muslims believe that this month is when the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed. It is the most Holy month in the calendar and during this month, Muslims do not consume food or water between their dawn and sunset prayers. In the U.A.E., everyone (including non-Muslims) are expected to refrain from drinking and eating in public areas as well.
As a non-Muslim new expat spending their first Ramadan in UAE, read on further for a few tips and where to join in on the festivities!
General Knowledge about Ramadan
- Ramadan begins on Friday May 26 to Saturday June 24. This is known as the Holy month.
- “Suhoor” is known as the meal they take just before the sunrise to prepare for their fasting for the day
- “Iftar” is the meal they take to break the fast after the sunsets
- Fasting is when they abstain from all food, drink and physical needs (including smoking). It is a time for them to focus their attention on God, practice self-discipline, sacrifice and purify their souls. Muslims all over the world will participate in this during Ramadan.
- Not everyone will be fasting – i.e. children, people with medical conditions, pregnant women etc.
Tips for Non-Muslim Expats
- Non-Muslims in UAE are expected to abstain from food/drink/smoking in the public areas. This includes drinking/eating in the car (if it is visible from the outside). Also, do not chew gum as it can be seen as eating.
- Not following these rules during Ramadan is considered a crime.
- Eating, drinking, smoking is allowed in the comfort of your own home (out of sight).
- If you need to drink or eat in public, look for designated areas/ areas out of sight.
- Dress conservatively. This does not apply to beaches/pools.
- During the Holy month, businesses may have different operating hours, so be sure to check ahead before arriving. Restaurants may be closed and shops may only be open a few hours before Iftar.
- Working hours are shortened during Ramadan – this applies to everyone (not only Muslims) – check with your employer for specific hours.
- Some bars/lounges may only serve alcohol after sunset. Live music or loud music will not be played.
- During the day, you can find food at supermarkets, some hotels and check for online delivery/takeaway to your home.
- If you are working out at the gym, it is allowed to drink water inside as usually people fasting will not be participating in any major physical activity. However, be mindful once you leave the gym.
- Non-Muslims can most definitely/encouraged to participate in Ramadan festivities such as Souhour & Iftar feasts. Be sure to book reservations in advance as these restaurants become very busy. Read on further for my Iftar experience at Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan.
Khalidiya Palace Rayhaan by Rotana, Abu Dhabi, UAE
I was so lucky to be invited to my first Iftar meal in the UAE. It is a joyous time for friends and loved ones to come together to enjoy a lavish feast together. Together with my blogger friends, we enjoyed an amazing selection of Arabic dishes.
Celebrate the Holy Month of Ramadan with us at our Horizon restaurant with the lavish Iftar Buffet, featuring of a refined selection of reviewed Arabic dishes for AED 149* with your loved ones and preserve the traditions around well garnished tables.
For Sohour, the night will shine with its buffet from 12.30 until 02.30 am for AED 85*.
Appetizers & Cold Mezzeh
As we were waiting for the rest of the guests to arrive, we were presented with falafel roll appetizers. Next came some cold mezzeh such as Hummous, Kibbeh Nayyeh, Kamoon Salad, Fattoush and Tabouleh. As part of the appetizers, was the mixed hot mezzeh platter and the batata Harra.
For our mains we had an abundant variety of grills such as the mixed grill platter, Laham bil caraz, Kibbeh Asikh, and the Fish Sayyadiah.
Lastly for dessert, we were served with Mahalabia, Um Ali, Katayf and assorted Arabic sweets.
The meal was wonderfully pairs with some Ramadan juices such as the Tamer Hindi and Jallab.
Iftar Shahy – Have a good Iftar & Ramadan Mubarak – Blessed Ramadan