Time Out Kids UAE

Ramadan guide

Everything you need to know about the month from dos, don’ts and etiquette to tips on healthy fasting


RAMADAN IS THE ninth month on the Islamic calendar. Muslims observe it all over the world as a period of fasting (sawm), one of the five pillars of Islam, from sun-up to sundown. It is a sacred period of reflection, worship and selfimprov­ement, as well as a time for families and friends to come together.

Following the Hijri calendar, the start date of Ramadan is approximat­ely ten days earlier each year on the Gregorian calendar. As Ramadan is called by the moon-sighting committee in Saudi Arabia at the appearance of the new moon, exact dates cannot be given until the night before. This year, Ramadan is expected to begin on Monday April 12 and run until Wednesday May 12, when three days of Eid Al-Fitr will be celebrated.

Every day throughout the month of Ramadan, from dawn, followers will abstain from eating and drinking until sunset, or iftar, when they can break their fast. In the UAE, it means practising more discretion than usual while out in public, and some minor changes to day-to-day life. This is a special time of year that everyone can enjoy and celebrate, and is the perfect time to immerse yourself in the country’s culture and heritage.


A traditiona­l greeting of “Ramadan Kareem” (have a blessed Ramadan) is polite and will be well-received, while modest dressing must be adhered to. Opt for loose-fitting clothes that cover your shoulders and knees, although it’s fine to wear swimwear around private pools or beaches at hotels.

Non-Muslims aren’t required to fast, but everyone is expected to avoid eating and drinking in public during daylight hours. Many restaurant­s – especially those within hotels – are open during the day with discreet dining areas for those who are not fasting.

Most workplaces will modify working hours throughout during Ramadan to accommodat­e the needs of those fasting. You may also find shops have slightly different opening times, with some closed or some opening later in the day and opening later into the night.


Younger children, especially those under six, are not expected to participat­e in fasting.

Kids between seven and 12 may start to observe fasting for short periods at a time. On reaching puberty participat­ion by all Muslims is required.

This year Ramadan falls during school term time, and so it’s important that school students of all ages understand and respect fasting. Non-Muslim children are not asked to participat­e, but they may be asked to eat their lunch in a designated area of the school.

Schools will also start later and finish earlier. Opening hours will be advised by individual schools, but are normally restricted to a maximum of six-hour days.

After school clubs are variable depending on who is operating them. Times may be adjusted or they may stop completely.

For younger children who attend nursery or playgroups, you should see no change, though hours may be reduced. You should freely be able to feed a young child when they are hungry and dress them as appropriat­e for the weather.

Iftar and suhoor

Iftar, which literally means the breaking of the fast, is the meal taken immediatel­y after sunset. This is a time for families to come together and eat a meal. Usually, an immediate snack of water and dates is taken before prayers, followed by a large meal.

Many of the hotels in the UAE put together iftar buffets.

Suhoor is the meal taken immediatel­y before sunrise and fasting commences for a new day, and again many hotels also provide suhoor.

This year, in light of the pandemic, the

UAE has outlined some measures to ensure Ramadan can be celebrated as safely as possible.

People are being urged to limit the number of family visits, while only members of the same household can share meals.

Usually you’ll spot family and charitable iftar tents around the emirates, but this year these have been banned due to the pandemic.

“Schools will also start later and finish earlier”

In addition, the National Crisis & Emergency Management Authority (NCEMA) also urges people to avoid distributi­ng and exchanging meals, while the sharing of meals in public places, as well as giving iftar meals in front of homes and mosques is not allowed this year.

Officials are also warning against evening gatherings, adding that donations and zakat should be done electronic­ally.


There are two Eid celebratio­ns.

Eid al-Fitr is the festival of the breaking of the fast, occurring immediatel­y after Ramadan. It is a time of festivitie­s and daytime feasts for Muslim families, also when people will dress in their new Eid clothes, ladies will have their hair and henna done and gift-giving occurs among other celebratio­ns.

It is a very busy time in the country, and also a public holiday – usually three days but for Government department­s, this may be extended to a week.

Eid al- Adha which is approximat­ely 70 days after the end of Ramadan, literally translates to ‘the festival of the sacrifice’. Arafat Day falls first, on the second day of Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca – the ninth Day of Dhu Al Hijja on the Hijri calendar. This is immediatel­y followed by Eid al- Adha.

This is another three to four-day public holiday though can be extended to a week also for Government department­s and schools.

Ramadan dos and don’ts

Know how to behave with respect around those fasting during Ramadan.

Do… dress appropriat­ely. The UAE already has guidelines in place for dress, especially in public areas such as malls and parks. Be especially considerat­e of these during Ramadan. Men and women should wear clothes that cover their shoulders and knees.

Do… respect those around you. If you’re not fasting, be considerat­e and mindful of others who are.

Do… try to avoid the roads at sunset, as they will be busier, since people who are fasting are likely to be travelling at this time to attend iftar. Travel earlier or later if you can.

Do… accept invitation­s to iftar. Aside from being a wonderful way to experience the UAE’s culture, it’s polite to accept. Do take a small gift for your host, such as a box of dates.

Do… use Ramadan greetings such as Ramadan Kareem.

“Respect those around you. If you’re not fasting, be considerat­e of others who are”

Do… be charitable. A big part of Ramadan is kindness and helping others. There are lots of official charities in the UAE and causes around the city for you to get involved with.

Don’t… eat, drink, smoke or chew gum in public during daylight hours. This includes on the street, in your car and at the office (check you own office’s rules). Breaking this rule is legally punishable.

Don’t… play loud music in public. If you’re in your car, keep the volume of the radio down. Ramadan is a contemplat­ive time, and you should be mindful of disturbing others.

Don’t… use offensive language or gestures. This isn’t something you should make a habit of anyway, but it’s particular­ly important to refrain from this during Ramadan.

Expert tips

Founder of The Family Hub, Hanan Ezzeldine, shares her top tips for a positive family Ramadan.

Establish healthy habits

As a parent your kids copy what you do, so make sure you follow healthy habits that you want to encourage in your kids during Ramadan. For example, less fights between siblings, learning how to set the dinner table, helping out in the kitchen, praying, giving back and so on. Set a routine for one to three activities with the kids and be consistent with the follow-up. It is important to make sure that they participat­e in choosing the tasks, that they have enough guidance from you on how to do them and that they can come back to you for support. Consistenc­y becomes key here.

Create a sense of unity

Develop strong habits of communicat­ing during meals and use the opportunit­y to encourage everyone to eat at the same time. Say no to screens at the table and instead enjoy some lovely family conversati­ons.

Be a role model for good manners

Show your kids that even though you might get irritable while fasting, that you are controllin­g yourself to become a better person, which is the essence of Ramadan. Skills like giving, anger management and controllin­g urges are easy wins that the children can grasp easily.

Carry out acts of kindness

This is the perfect time to create simple acts of kindness at home; supporting each other, helping out family members as well as reaching out to help the wider community.

Focus on charity

Support the community and get your children involved. Let them know that it’s not just about money, but also donating good quality things that they own to make others happy.

Celebrate Eid

Go all out for the celebratio­ns. Buy new clothes, get gifts for your friends and family, participat­e in happy occasions to make sure that everyone benefits. Make it a happy event, and something the whole family can look forward to every year.

Healthy fasting

Founder of Koala Picks, Aya Assaf, gives her expert advice on ways to healthy eating and nutrition for the whole family.

Break your fast with something small.

It’s preferable to break your fast with a date because it encourages the digestive system to beprepared for food digestion.

Stay Hydrated.

It is very important to make sure you have plenty of water and fluids between iftar and suhoor, to avoid dehydratio­n and fatigue.

Nourish your body.

Make sure your iftar meal is made up of healthy nutritious food rather than unhealthy fried food. Eat plenty of protein and healthy fats to keep you full for longer.

“Iftar is the meal at sunset during Ramadan when Muslims can break their fast”

Portion sizes.

Make sure you don’t over eat during iftar. It’s a very easy trap to fall into, but by having small portions of soup, salad and your main meal, you avoid indigestio­n problems and weight gain.

Minimise food with a high sugar content.

After fasting we often crave high sugar food to compensate for the drop of glucose levels in our bodies. However, the fluctuatio­n of sugar levels in the body will cause increased cravings and fatigue. That’s why it’s advisable to wait two to three hours after iftar to have any sweets or desserts.

Don’t skip suhoor.

Suhoor is a very important meal to give your body the energy for the following day. You should eat light and healthy protein-packed food such as Greek yogurt and fava beans.

Get enough sleep.

This is important as a lack of sleep will cause tiredness, which in turn will translate to feeling more hungry due to the lack of energy.

 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ?? Establish healthy habits
Establish healthy habits
 ??  ??
 ??  ?? Focus on charity
Focus on charity
 ??  ?? Healthy fasting
Healthy fasting
 ??  ??
 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Arab Emirates