Ramadan guide for non-Muslims in Dubai

Ramadan guide for non-Muslims in Dubai

The Holy Month of Ramadan 2012, has started; in the next 4 weeks, you may observe a different Dubai: shop and resturant closed during daytime, co-workers taking a power nap at 9:30am or missing during the lunch break.

Then you remember what proclaimed last week with much gusto, “Ramadan Mubarak (Moo-baa-rak)!” Ramadan’s Blessings to you!

The month of Ramadan is a happy occasion for Muslims; it is the Holy Month during which the Quran, was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. Muslims are called by their religion to celebrate the Ramadan by coming together in worship, fasting each day for 30 days from dawn until sunset.

Ramadan is a time for community and charity. There are iftar dinners held at mosques every night (you are welcome to join the fun – even if you’re not fasting!) and night time prayer vigils throughout the month. Most of Muslims give charity in abundance and make an extra effort to partake in community service. Throughout it all, they maintain an ambiance of joy and gratitude for all that God has blessed us with, and reflect on those in this world who have been given much less. This is a time for all of us – not just Muslims – to renew our spiritual intentions, increase our knowledge, and change ourselves for the better. Something similar to what should do spirit of Christmas.

Make it a little easier on Muslim people by following a couple of simple rules:

The Greeting

Every time you meet Muslim colleagues-customers-friends, feel free to wish them “Ramadan Mubarak” or “Ramadan Kareem” or simply “Happy Ramadan”. Muslims absolutely love it when people acknowledge Ramadan and are happy about it.

Keep in mind that Muslims are fasting voluntarily and, actually, pretty joyously (despite the tired, sad look on our face). They are not forced to fast. In fact, they wait for this month the whole year, so you don’t have to feel sorry for them. They are not trying to be rescued (other than by that ticking clock taking them closer to sunset!).

Breakfasts, lunches, water and Iftar
While this may seem like a tremendous feat, consider this: fasting while working is an even greater endeavor.
Most of them understand life goes on, and so do breakfast and lunch for non-Muslims, and if they are participating in a lunch meeting, for example, while fasting, don’t worry about eating in front of them. Of course avoiding these situation would be easier for them, but this is just part of the test. They appreciate your acknowledging they are fasting, but don’t feel the need to discuss it every time you show up in their line of sight holding food. Just try not to eat smelly foods…

Beside not eating, they can’t drink water either. Again, this is part of the Ramadan test and their exercise of spiritual discipline. This is probably why you may not find your Muslim friend at the water cooler in the office, for ecample; try switching the break time conversation to another location in the office or let them skip their turn for the coffee run this time.

Iftar is the Arabic word for the meal served at sunset when Muslims break the fast during the Ramadan (this word literally means ‘breakfast’). Consider holding a Ramadan Iftar dinner. This will be a nice gesture for Muslim coworkers and will give others the opportunity to learn about and partake in Ramadan festivities. Although there is no specific type of meal designated for iftars, it is is tradition to break the fast with a sweet and refreshing date before moving to a full-on dinner, as the Prophet Muhammed did in the past.


While Allah may tell Muslims the breath of the one fasting is like “fragrant musk” to Him, we know that you might not experience the same, cause of the fasting. Understand why they’re standing a good foot away from you when speaking or simply using signs to communicate.

Fasting is not an excuse

Although energy levels might be low, the point of fasting is not to slack off from their other duties and responsibilities. They believe they are rewarded for continuing to work and produce during their fasts. Fasting is not a reason to push meetings, clear schedules, or take a lighter load on projects. For sure there are some “tricks” to make it easier: opening time of some shops could change. Some shops open in the early morning for a couple of hours, then they close till the early afternoon for another couple of hours. Then they reopens again after the Iftar.

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