The Ramadan Essentials
The Holy Month - Fasting during the month of Ramadan is the 4th pillar of Islam. This month, which is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, marks the period in which the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) received his Quranic revelation in the year 610 C.E. Muslims, who are able and healthy, fast from dawn until sunset, after which they break their fast with a meal known as iftar. Ramadan in 2017 will start on May 26th and end on June 25th (depends on lunar moon sightings).
The Eating, The Drinking, and The Smoking - During the month, Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, and smoking (and other things) until the sun sets. So, during the day, eating, drinking, and smoking are strictly prohibited in public areas. For those who aren't fasting, there are many restaurants in Dubai open for takeaway and/or dine-in. This applies to many cafes, restaurants, and even food courts in malls. You may have to sit in a shaded area, or order your meals to go, but the option and food are available.
The Iftars and The Suhoors - The meal which you break your fasting with is called an iftar. And if you've been around in Dubai during Ramadan, you'll know that there are endless options to choose from. Many places offer all-you-can-eat buffets at set prices hosted in traditional Arabian tents which are quite an experience. You can even visit such tents later in the evening for a lighter Suhoor meal. Some of the more popular spots fill up pretty quick, so make sure to reserve as early as possible.
The Desserts - There are several incredible desserts which are typically served only during the month of Ramadan, so you'll need to get in line for them. Look out for the Arabic pancakes called 'atayef' served stuffed with either cream, cheese, or almonds.
The Quieter Malls - Dubai's malls tend to experience much quieter mornings during Ramadan. As many Muslims prefer to go home after work and await iftar, malls tend have a drop in shopper numbers. So if you like to avoid crowded malls, mornings are probably an optimal time to shop. This effect is reversed after iftar, as these very same malls stay open very late (up to 3 am in some cases) to accommodate everyone.
The Nightlife - All night clubs in Dubai will be closed during the month of Ramadan. Bars and lounges, on the other hand, are open, and serve food and later alcohol after sunset. Those eating and drinking during the month should of course be very respectful of those fasting.
The Bigger Bang for Your Travel Dirham - As hotels experience lower demand during this month, prices inevitably drop and you can score awesome deals (room rates, dining in) at many hotels which may have been previously less accessible. Many retailers also offer Ramadan discounts which you can inquire about during your visit.
Hi! I'm Nada. A Dubai bred expat & founder of Wander With, a tour guide company in Dubai. I want to show you just why, I and many others who live here, love this city.