Modesty in public places is emphasised during Ramadan and this should be respected by everyone. Shoulders and chests should be covered, and skirts should fall below the knee. Of course, if you’re beside the pool or at the beach, swimwear is acceptable, but beyond that, when in public you should dress appropriately as a sign of respect. You may be escorted out of a shopping mall if you’re not.
Keep your eyes on the road
With everyone who’s been fasting eager to join family and friends, thousands head home or out for their iftar buffets at the same time, so around sunset the roads can get really busy. Each year the road accident rate rockets as drivers get behind the wheel, suffering from temporary dehydration and low blood sugar. Tiredness, impatience and headaches are a lethal combination for any driver.
At sundown, Muslims break their daily fast with iftar – a sumptuous meal enjoyed with friends and family. For an authentic experience, join a Muslim friend or colleague at their home and indulge in a traditional Arabian buffet of mezze, desserts and juices. The socialising continues way into the night as friends lie back, taking in the sweet aroma of shisha and the strains of relaxing oud music until the early hours. Ramadan is all about community spirit – make sure you’re part of it.
Get the message
While officially Ramadan is a spiritual time for Muslims, this Holy period has lessons for us all, says Nasif Kayed, General Manager at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding. “Ramadan is about being a better person; it is all about discipline and empathy,” says Nasif. “It teaches one not to be wasteful, to reach out to others, to show humanity and tolerance.” Indeed, these are lessons that ought to extend way beyond Eid for all of us, so take the time to understand and appreciate the peaceful message of Ramadan.
Consume anything in public
One of the lessons taught during Ramadan is not to be wasteful. Muslims fast during daylight hours in order to learn that we should ‘eat to live, and not live to eat’. It also teaches self-control and discipline. As a courtesy to all those fasting, other people should not eat or drink in public. Walking around brazenly sipping from a water bottle eating a bag of crisps, or even chewing gum is not acceptable and may result in a fine or a trip to the police station.
Blare your tunes out
As you are driving around during Ramadan, keep your car radio off or turned down low. Likewise, if you’re at home, music that can be heard by others outside will be considered disrespectful. Muslims are expected to avoid listening to music during the Holy Month, since it may distract them from their spiritual thoughts and behaviour. So be discreet.
Expect the same nightlife scene
The nightlife in the UAE takes on a more sedate tone during Ramadan. While alcohol may be served after sundown in some hotel bars and restaurants, you’ll find that many bars and clubs will be closed. Those that remain open may be playing background music with the volume on low, and there’s no live music. Postpone your partying for a more appropriate time.
Adhere to your usual routine
If you are set in your ways, you might find that you will have to change your schedule during Ramadan. While shopping malls and supermarkets maintain daytime opening times with extended evening hours, offices will adjust their working hours. Employers stick to the guidelines set up by the Federal Government, and private sector companies are required to shorten their employees’ working hours.
Get frustrated or lash out
While Ramadan might interfere with your usual routine, remember that it is a time for self control. All Muslims should avoid thinking bad thoughts, cursing or getting angry during this period – non-Muslims can benefit from adopting a similar attitude for a happy and peaceful month for everyone