If you’ve ever lived in Dubai, you’ll be more than aware of the importance of Ramadan in the Islamic calendar. The first new moon this June ushers in a holy month for Muslims, along with a string of unmissable deals for avid travellers.
At Destinology we always try to ensure that your holiday expectations are as close to reality as they can be. This not only entails a great deal of travelling to some of the most exclusive and beautiful destinations in the world (poor us), but it also requires enactment of the best policy there is – honesty. So, truth be told, visiting Dubai during Ramadan may not be for everyone, especially those seeking a more hedonistic Emirati escape. That said, if you want to immerse yourself in a different culture and witness an extraordinary human phenomenon, then we’d say it’s most definitely for you.
The best thing to equip you with for visiting Dubai in Ramadan is an appreciation and understanding of what it’s all about. Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic lunar calendar and reputed to be the month in which God revealed the Quran to Muhammad. Much like Easter, the dates of Ramadan change each year and are dictated by the moon, but that’s where the similarities end. From sunup to sundown, all Muslims are expected to abstain from food and drink, including water, along with smoking and other ‘sinful’ activities, such as swearing and having impure thoughts. Fasting is believed to cleanse the soul by freeing it of harmful impurities and redirect the heart away from worldly activities.
This annual period of religious observance has harboured some unique customs and expectations of people visiting Dubai. For instance, in Ramadan it’s considered highly disrespectful to eat, drink or smoke outdoors during the day time. Women are expected to cover their upper bodies and public displays of affection are deeply frowned upon. As you might imagine, the days are quieter than usual as Muslim residents are more conservative with their energy, unable to eat or even drink water despite being in the scorching Arabian sun. For the above reasons, some tourists tend to avoid Dubai during Ramadan, which has resulted in a multitude of lucrative offers from many of the emirate’s prestigious high-end hotels. And if you’re happy to be mindful throughout the day, then you’ll reap the rewards of the uniquely vibrant atmosphere of Ramadan nights.
Iftar is the name given by Muslims to the evening meal which ends their daily fast during Ramadan. You can probably empathise with the fact that after almost fourteen hours without food or water during the day, fasting residents are VERY happy to finally eat. This air of gratefulness transcends sentiment and works its way into the mouth-watering array of flavours and aromas that fill the streets of Dubai every evening. Iftar is as much a celebration as it is a daily meal, so much so that you can’t help but pay reverence to the sense of togetherness and commitment shared by those around you. From a secular point of view, fasting could perhaps teach us a thing or two about the benefits of patience and sacrificing short-term comforts to achieve long-term success. But whichever way you look at it, Muslim or not, Ramadan’s culture of introspective reflection is both infectious and enriching.
So, for those who want to eat in the sunshine or smoke in the streets to their heart’s content, Ramadan probably isn’t the best time to visit Dubai. That being said, hotels are much more accommodating to western ideals. No eating outside doesn’t mean no eating at all – you just have to do it in the hotel. During the days of Ramadan, there’s one world outdoors and a completely different one inside. But for those of you seeking a brand new experience, if you love a great deal and enjoy complete immersion into the zeitgeist of your surroundings, then, for you, we’d say Ramadan in Dubai is an absolute must.