Ramadan in UAE: All you need to know about reduced work hours, Eid holidays
Ramadan is about to begin in a month’s time; this year, it is expected to fall on March 22 or 23 and will end on April 21. The start of Ramadan changes every year based on the Islamic calendar, which consists of 12 lunar months of either 354 or 355 days. This causes the fasting month to move up to 10 days earlier each year in the Gregorian calendar. However, dates may vary based on the sighting of the new crescent moon.
It is important for non-Muslim residents or tourists in the UAE to understand the rules and etiquette surrounding Ramadan so that they respect the local culture and traditions.
Rules and working hours
While non-Muslims are not required to fast during Ramadan, they are expected to respect the customs and traditions of the Holy Month.
The UAE government has rules for non-Muslims to follow during Ramadan, which include refraining from eating, drinking, smoking, or chewing gum in public during the fasting hours.
Non-Muslims are expected to avoid engaging in any aggressive behaviour, playing loud music, wearing inappropriate clothing, and using any offensive language. They are also encouraged to accept invitations to Iftar meals, which are the breaking of fasts, and to join in the spirit of the season.
While most people in the UAE will be fasting during the day, some malls and restaurants will remain open during Ramadan to serve non-Muslims, children, and the elderly. However, these establishments will still be expected to adhere to the rules and regulations set out by the UAE government during Ramadan.
During Ramadan, those employed in the UAE can expect shorter working hours. Schools will also work half day. The length of the school day is usually reduced by two hours throughout the holy month. This year most schools will have two weeks of Spring holidays during Ramadan. This means that when school recommences after the Spring holiday on either April 10 or April 17, there will be just 1 – 2 weeks left of reduced school hours before Eid Al Fitr
As per the country’s labour law, private sector workers are required to work eight hours per day. However, during the Holy Month, working hours are reduced by two hours, meaning that workers will only be required to work six hours per day.
The time it takes to commute from the employee’s place of residence to the workplace will not constitute working hours, except for certain categories of workers as specified by the ‘Executive Regulations of the Labour Law.’
Those who are fasting during Ramadan will maintain up to 14 hours of fasting per day. Each day, the duration of the fast will increase by a few minutes, so it is important to plan your day accordingly.
During Ramadan, there are two main meals: Suhoor and Iftar. Iftar is the meal that breaks the fast, and it is usually consumed at sunset, while Suhoor is consumed early in the morning before sunrise, just before the fasting hours begin.