If you thought Ramadan meant a dry spell for Dubai visitors and utter boredom for most, along with a long list of prohibitions, here we prove you wrong by busting a few myths on what you can and cannot do if you happen to be in Dubai during the holy season. Read on and see our full list of not-so-prohibitive prohibitions and find out how to make the most of a visit to Dubai during Ramadan and have the best holiday time ever!
And here we are, turning those supposedly Ramadan “can’ts” into “cans”:
1. You can’t eat during the day
Really? Seriously? Who would think that a tourism-driven economy like Dubai’s would subject foreign, non-Muslims tourists to lengthy hunger spells? Simply unthinkable! Whilst the majority of the population will indeed be fasting and many restaurants are closed during daylight hours, you will not be expected to go without a bite until sunset.
The rule here is not to eat in public as it will cause offence to those who fast (and understandably so) but most hotels will still offer room service so and many do open during lunchtime and breakfast to serve non-Muslim guests. Yes, your options on where and what to eat will be more limited during the daytime but by no means will you hungry or have to search far and wide to find a place to eat.
Malls also open curtailed food courts for non-fasters during Ramadan if you happen to be out shopping. The best bit is that once the sun goes down you can have a real feast and join in with the local celebrations. If you want to find out the best places to eat in the daytime during Ramadan, this is the list of open Dubai restaurants to check.
2. You can’t drink water during daylight hours
Again, Dubai won’t let their highly-valued non-Muslim visitors go thirsty. Especially not the younger ones, who obviously don’t go thirsty here even if they’re Muslims. But you don’t have to be an infant or a small child to be allowed a sip, as once again you’ll be able to buy bottled water, juice or a fizzy drink and as long as you drink it within your resort or hotel and not outside on the street in public, it’s perfectly fine.
If you’re out and about exploring and need to take a sip just try to find a bathroom or enclosed place so as not to offend others. Locals don’t expect foreigners to abstain from eating and drinking but they do expect them to be respectful and cautious when doing so.
3. You can’t drink alcohol
Now, with regards to the consumption of alcohol things are a little stricter but not completely banned. No question about it that virtually all bars will be closed during the day and many restaurants will not serve alcoholic beverages in daylight hours. But there are exceptions, especially, inside hotels and resorts. Most likely though, you’ll have to wait until 7 p.m. to start boozing to your heart’s content, as this is the time when most bars will start welcoming back guests and restaurants will bring out the tipple again.
If you have purchased alcohol at the airport’s duty free or brought it from home there’s nothing stopping you from enjoying a lager in the privacy of your hotel room, whatever the time of day.
4. You can’t wear bikinis
I’m not sure where this myth originated but you’re safe to wear bikinis anywhere in Dubai as long as it’s part of a hotel or resort’s swimming area. This is true for Ramadan and the rest of the year. There’s no rule that specially forbids you from swimming in a pool or the sea during Ramadan in a bikini or any other form of beach wear.
Pools, beach parks and public beaches will all remain open during the day and there’s nothing stopping you going for a dip. In regards to wearing a bikini you’re fine to do so within the confines of your hotel or resort but at a public beach you may need to cover up a bit more (maybe a one-piece suit or tank and shorts combo) if you want to avoid angry stares from women and being ogled at by men.
The same rules as for the rest of the year when bathing or lounging by the pool or the beach apply: going topless is a strict no-no, wearing a thong or G-string is ill-advised and disrespectful. Just make sure to cover up when you walk on the streets to and from the beach.
5. You can’t listen to music during Ramadan
It’s true that no music will be played outloud during the day over the Ramadan period, so don’t expect to be swooned by tunes anywhere in public. Instead you can bring your iPod or MP3 player and listen to your own music as much as you like – problem fixed! If you want to enjoy music in company just wait until sunset and you’ll see a myriad of bars getting in the mood to rock and roll!
You can have a blast of a time listening to music after the sun goes down at some of Dubai’s most happening music venues and bars. Outside bars and clubs it’s offensive in Dubai to sing or dance in public, so never ever do this, not just in Ramadan; ever!
6. You can’t dance
Yet another myth we’ll be happy to bust. The answer to this one goes hand in hand with the previous one about listening to music. During the daytime everything will be quiet so no music to dance along to until sunset. Even if you bring your own music and put on a pair of headphones don’t be tempted into dancing or singing in public areas. As we’ve explained above this is regarded as extremely offensive regardless the time of year and must not be done, ever! You’re safe to dance and party the night away at designated nightclubs, lounges pubs and bars, even when fewer of them will be open.
7. There’s nothing to do in Dubai during Ramadan
Wrong, and wrong again. Because of many outlets closing during the day (not malls though, not ever!) they are open into the late hours at night to make up and night-shopping, walking and sightseeing is a real experience for tourists. Hitting the streets after sunset is the best time as the whole city comes to life and you can enjoy local markets serving fresh local cuisine until the wee hours.
But that’s not to say there’s nothing to do during the day either! If you get tired of the beach or your hotel pool, there’s always the amazing malls with every imaginable attraction in store, from indoor skiing to cinemas, underwater zoos and fun arcades. The best bit is that as most establishments are open later than usual, the fun goes on until midnight during Ramadan!
Why Ramadan is a special time to visit Dubai
Ramadan shouldn’t mean blackout dates for tourists, but a special time to connect with the nation’s spirituality and join in the celebrations with the locals. It’s one of the best times to appreciate emirati culture and join in with traditions such as sunset high tea parties and amazing buffet spreads.
On top of this shopping malls often have special Ramadan festivals after sundown with special deals and discounts to celebrate the holiest of dates in the Muslim calendar. Yet another of coming to Dubai during Ramadan is the fact that it’ll be much quieter and less busy than at other times of the year, allowing for a more relaxed holiday, lower hotel room rates and less crowds everywhere. Ticket prices to attractions like Ski Dubai, Aquaventure and Wild Wadi are often cheaper too with much fewer guests to share the attractions with.
Ramadan in the UAE in 2016 started on 6th June and will finish on 5th July, although the dates may vary by a day or so according to the moon sightings. So, there’s still time if you want to enjoy Ramadan in Dubai this year, even a weekend escape will prove special and enjoyable. Now you know there’s nothing to fear, the prohibitions aren’t as bad or as strict as most people thing and if you’re respectful nothing can stop you from having an amazing time in Dubai this Ramadan!