Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar is a sanctified time for the Muslim countries around the world. It is a month long fast which is centred on worship and faith, where believers abstain from eating and other worldly pleasures like smoking, drinking etc. from sun up to sun down.
If you’re visiting the MENA Region (as a tourist or Non-Muslim) during the holy month of Ramadan, here’s a few tips that’ll help you get acclimatized:
You can expect most restaurants and cafes to stay shut during the day in cities and it is advised that everyone observe the fast in public, but you will most likely be able to find screened eating areas and the option of room service in most large mall and hotels. Fair warning, it could be a tad expensive.
On the other hand, the Iftar celebrations are sight to see. Once it is sundown, the festivities will take over with the most amazing food will be on service to help you break the fast. Families come together and the city is lit up in high spirits. And if you’re lucky enough there is nothing like being invited to an Arabic home to break the fast.
Nightlife & Activities
Alcohol is not banned in places like Dubai, but Qatar and Bahrain on the other hand are much more restrictive. The Nightlife scene will also die down a fair bit as a majority of nightclubs and live music venues will close their doors during the day. However, you can expect a few of the high end ones to be open past sunset in the major cities. A word of precaution, it is advised to not sing, dance or appear to be intoxicated in public at any time of the day.
On the plus side, a lot of other activities in the cities will be open and less crowded than usual so it’ll be the optimum time to check out other fun things around town. The Burj Khalifa in Dubai for instance will remain open and much easier to scale. We’d suggest making an effort to understand the ins and outs of this religious time of year and what it means to the Muslim community. Take tours, visit Mosques and get a truly unique experience of the city.
We will say that if you’re walking around town during the day you will be expected to dress conservatively. Women would also have to make a special effort to limit the amount of make-up worn and also see to it that arms, legs and shoulders are covered. Men should ideally be full sleeved, but can wear T-shirts depending on how strict the rules are. Shorts, if worn, should be covered from the knee up.
Although many of the shops will remain closed during the day, there are amazing night markets with hugely discounted goods on display, especially on electronics so definitely check those out too.
Source Credits: Risha Ghosh