During this important religious period, Muslims will fast during daylight hours, abstaining from food, drink, smoking and sexual activities for one month. Two meals can be consumed each day; one before sunrise (known as suhour) and one after sunset (known as iftar).

As the sun sets each evening, the fast can be broken, with announcements made on radio and through mosques. Both local and expat Muslims then enjoy a sumptuous iftar with friends and family, but plenty of non-Muslim residents also take part in the festivities.The end of Ramadan is celebrated with a three-day holiday, Eid Al Fitr.

Rules for Muslims during Ramadan

  • Resist detrimental emotions of anger, greed, envy, lust and refrain from gossip.
  • Keep thoughts and actions pure, and use the time of fasting for spiritual contemplation.
  • Be charitable and help those in need.
  • Visit friends and family members.
  • No food, drink, smoking or sexual activities (with husband/wife) during daylight hours.

Expat Do's and Don'ts

  • DO consume food in private. Restaurants and coffee shops close during daylight hours in respect of Muslims who are fasting. While many offer a take-away option, you should not eat your food in public.
  • DO NOT eat, drink or smoke in public (including inside your car). It is illegal and, if caught, you are likely to pay a fine of up to Dhs.2,500 with harsher punishments stretching to two months in jail.
  • DO dress more conservatively during Ramadan. It’s always important to dress conservatively when in public areas such as restaurants and malls, but this is especially prevalent during the Holy month. Avoid sleeveless tops, short skirts and shorts, and cover up anything see-through.
  • DO NOT play loud music (including inside your car). Nightclubs are closed during the holy month, while lounges and bars are likely to respect this rule.
  • DO NOT dance in public places during Ramadan as this is seen as disrespectful.
  • DO NOT get caught for an alcohol-related offence, including being drunk in public, as these are likely to be treated far harsher during Ramadan.

Ramadan Hours
According to UAE labour law, all companies are obliged to shorten the working day by two hours during Ramadan.

Even though this is to assist Muslim employees who are fasting, the law makes no distinction in this regard between Muslim and non-Muslim employees. Therefore, even those who are not fasting are entitled to a shorter working day.

Employees can opt for an overtime of up to two extra hours and will have to be compensated accordingly. Ministry officials say that employees should be paid 25% of their basic salary every day for morning duty and 50% for night shifts. Complaints against employers violating the regulations can be made on 800 665.

Ramadan Traffic Congestion
The traffic in major cities like Abu Dhabi and Dubai has a totally different pattern during Ramadan; instead of being gridlocked in the mornings and quiet in the afternoons, the mornings are almost jam-free and you'll sail through all the usual trouble spots, while in the afternoons the roads are totally clogged. 

Night-time activity increases during Ramadan, with many shops staying open later (until midnight or even 1am) and the city's many shisha cafes and some restaurants stay open until the early hours.

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