Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. During the month, Muslims all over the world abstain from food, drink, and other physical needs during the daylight hours. However, Ramadan is much more than just not eating or drinking. It is a time to purify the soul and practice self-sacrifice. It is also a time to cleanse the body from impurities and re-focus one's self on the worship of God (Allah in Arabic).
During Ramadan, Muslims are called upon to make peace with those who have wronged them, strengthen ties with family and friends, and to do away with bad habits, thoughts and feelings. The Arabic word for "fasting" (sawm) literally means "to refrain" - and it means not only refraining from food and drink, but from evil actions, thoughts and words.
Each year when Ramadan arrives, activities in Dubai immediately come to what is seemingly a grinding halt. Work hours are shortened to 6 hours per day, most food and beverage establishments serve takeaway orders only or open nearer to sunset when it is time to break one’s fast (iftar), daytime sporting activities cease and a general calm blankets the city as devout Muslims focus on worshipping and maintaining their fast. Mosques and prayer rooms experience an upsurge in attendees as religious observance reaches its peak. Many people tend to dress more conservatively in keeping with Islamic teachings and local customs.
Music in public venues and shopping centres is replaced with Quran recitations, and no concerts or festivals are held during Ramadan. Fewer beachgoers line the shores as people observe the holiest month of the year and night owls are awakened to take in Ramadan related celebrations that come to life in most of the city’s hotels, cafes, restaurants and shopping malls. Although the city remains calm throughout the day, at night it suddenly bursts back to life. Drinking establishments are not permitted to serve liquor until after nightfall, but nightclubs remain closed throughout the month.
If you are experiencing the month of Ramadan in Dubai and do not fast, there are certain actions you should be mindful of to ensure you do not offend those engrossed in worshipping or others who are taking in this solemn time to reflect and practice self-discipline. Public displays of affection are generally frowned upon, but particularly more so during the holy month of Ramadan. Eating or drinking in public is illegal. This rule is enforced, with actual documented incidents where people have been arrested and fined several thousands of dirhams for eating in their own vehicles in plain sight of passers-by. The same applies to smoking or consuming any type of orally ingested nicotine.
One must be mindful that the majority of the public is observing the fast during Ramadan. Therefore, avoid doing the above mentioned activities in respectful consideration of local practices and traditions. It also keeps you out of trouble with the law!
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