Ramadan is fast approaching, with the holy month expected to fall on March 23, according to astronomical calculations. Muslims around the world abstain from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk during this time, and the Islamic community comes together to pray, with fasting being one of the five pillars of the religion.
Residents around the UAE are preparing to usher in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar in full swing, as this year marks the first in four years that Ramadan will be observed without any Covid-related restrictions.
With rules around mask use, travel, gatherings and visiting mosques more relaxed than ever before, this leads to the question – what is prohibited in the country during the holy month?
Here are five rules to observe in public this Ramadan, to ensure a smooth, peaceful and serene month for those observing.
1. Do not eat, drink, or chew gum in public
Eating or drinking in public during Ramadan is strictly prohibited, according to the UAE’s penal code – but did you know this extends to chewing gum?
The rules do not apply to every indoor establishment, however; many malls and restaurants around the country remain open during the holy month to serve non-Muslims, children, pregnant women, and the elderly.
It is also worth noting that these restrictions in serving food and drink do not apply to Dubai – provided they are done indoors or in designated establishments, those not fasting may still eat and drink in these areas.
2. Avoid arguments, aggressive behaviour
During the holy month, both those who are fasting and those who are not are advised to behave respectfully with one another. Residents are advised to avoid engaging in unnecessary debates or arguments – particularly those in public.
3. Avoid loud music
Residents are requested to refrain from playing loud music in their cars or in their homes so as not to disturb observing Muslims who might be offering prayers or reciting the Quran at that time.
Playing loud music while in malls is also prohibited.
4. Do not turn down Iftar invitations
It is considered impolite to turn down Iftar invitations extended by Muslim friends and colleagues. Iftar, a meal held every day during the holy month at sunset to break the fast, is a highly auspicious event, and is celebrated with plenty of food, family and friends.
Be mindful before turning down a warm invite to an Iftar gathering – while there is no law against this, it may be considered bad practice.
A refusal to accept the Iftar invitation is considered a bad practice.
5. Do not wear inappropriate clothing in public
In light of the month of peace and serenity, UAE residents must dress modestly while in public during Ramadan. As a general rule of thumb, men and women are advised to wear clothing that covers their shoulders, torso, and above the knee.
It is worth noting that while particularly appreciated during Ramadan, these guidelines regarding clothing are part of Emirati law anyway.