Frequently Asked Questions

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Dubai holidays during Ramadan

When is Ramadan?

Ramadan this year starts on 16th May and finishes on 14th June 2018.

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan, or ‘sawm’, is a one of the five pillars of Islam. Muslims traditionally fast for 29 to 30 days during Ramadan. The month of Ramadan is lunar and falls at a different time each year.

During Ramadan, Muslims will be strictly fasting between sunrise and sunset, and instead will be taking the time for increased worship and contemplation. Tourists shouldn’t be put off from visiting during the month of Ramadan, as there are also cultural festivals and entertainment to enjoy, but there are details that you should be aware of.

Can I eat and drink during the day?

Eating and drinking is forbidden in public places during daylight hours. Restaurants and cafes will mostly be closed, and if you are seen eating or drinking in public, you may be reprimanded or even fined by police.

But don’t worry, you can still eat and drink during Ramadan! Large hotels may offer a limited food service in private areas, or you can eat in cordoned off tents.

It is important to note that some advertised restaurants inside hotels may operate on different opening hours or be closed altogether.

Supermarkets remain open during the day, so you can buy food and drink – just make sure you consume it in private.

If in doubt about whether or not you can eat or drink, ask for advice from your hotel staff or local rep.

Can I eat and drink at night?

Yes! After sunset, Muslims attend evening prayer and then enjoy ‘iftar’ with their families – a traditional Arabian buffet which breaks the fast.

The city becomes alive with hotels, restaurants and special Bedouin-style iftar tents offering public and private dining options. You’ll find live cooking, Turkish, Lebanese and Middle Eastern specialities plus tempting worldwide cuisine all at your fingertips.

Muslims also traditionally enjoy a pre-fasting meal before dawn known as the Suhoor, and many hotels and restaurants offer food between the hours of 1:00am and 4:00am.

Can I drink alcohol during Ramadan?

Yes, you can drink alcohol in certain areas. Just keep in mind that it is forbidden to drink alcohol in public in Dubai, and it is illegal to exhibit drunken behaviour in the Middle East. Tourists can drink alcohol in moderation in certain hotel bars and restaurants – just ask at your hotel for advice.

Will attractions still be open during Ramadan?

Some attractions may be closed during Ramadan, such as clubs, while others like local entertainment and cinemas may have different opening hours. Don’t fret, there are still plenty of things to do with gallery exhibitions, museums and attractions all at your fingertip. Ask your local concierge for tips and suggestions.

Malls have huge Ramadan sales and late opening hours during Ramadan to fit around prayer times. Most of Dubai’s giant shopping malls also have special Ramadan ‘sales’.

Can I go to the beach during Ramadan?

You can definitely go to the beach during Ramadan. Just keep in mind that drinking water is forbidden, so if Ramadan falls during summer it might be a better choice to relax by the hotel’s pool.

What happens after Ramadan?

Eid al Fitr follows the month of Ramadan and is a great time to experience Dubai. It translates to ‘festival of the breaking of the fast’ and is a time when cultural dancers and performances take place for a two-three day public holiday.

Tips for holidaying during Ramadan

Avoiding offensive behaviour during Ramadan is easy – avoid listening to loud music without earphones, and don’t swear, dance, smoke or sing in public.

For more information go to the Dubai Tourist Board.