Ramadan is a significant month in the UAE, and one of the most important events in the Islamic calendar. With its huge cultural impact on Abu Dhabi, it’s a fantastic time to visit if you wish to explore the religion and the customs, and truly understand the locals. However, there are restrictions on tourist activities during this time.
Ramadan usually occurs between July and August, though this date moves forwards every 9 – 10 days each year. It’s a month of reflection and abstinence for Muslims, and they will fast from sunrise until sunset. If you’re in Abu Dhabi during Ramadan, you will hear the call to prayer each evening, signifying the end of fasting for that day. At the end of Ramadan is a public holiday – Eid ul-Fitr – a celebration involving feasting and visiting loved ones.
Visiting Abu Dhabi during this time will be an incredible experience, and you’ll be able to fully submerge yourself into the emirate’s culture and way of life. However, be prepared to change the way you act in public. It is illegal for any adult to eat, drink or smoke in public during daylight hours, and most cafes and restaurants close until sundown. However, many food outlets will have a covered area where you can eat, take-away food can be delivered, and some hotels will have a restaurant for non-fasters.
Entertainment mainly comes to a halt during Ramadan: music is not allowed, and nightclubs tend to close. Bars and restaurants still serve alcoholic drinks, but only after sunset. You should take preparations to dress more conservatively, avoiding tight or revealing clothes. Beaches and hotel pools remain open, and swimwear is fine to wear as long as you stay pool or beach-side.
While in Abu Dhabi during Ramadan, you’ll be able to experience Iftar buffets: large buffets of brilliant, exotic food for those who have been fasting during the day. You will be welcome to join fasters for their evening meal, as the majority of restaurants and cafes provide buffets.