One of the most important Islamic events of the year is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, also known as Ramadan. Ramadan, which has a state date that may vary from year to year depending on the moon, is a time of fasting, religious devotion, and worship for Muslims. During this period, all UAE residents over the age of 12 in good physical and mental health, including non-Muslims, must abstain from eating, drinking, or smoking in public from sunrise to sunset. There are some rumors that people have been jailed for being caught breaking the fast in public. However, it is more likely that you will receive a fine of about 1000 to 2000 DHS ($270 USD – $545 USD). Of course, the penalty also depends on where you are. As mentioned earlier, some emirates adhere more closely to Islamic law than others. If you are caught breaking the law in Sharjah, you are likely to be penalized more harshly than if you were caught breaking the law in Dubai. However, even in Dubai, sentences or penalties for crimes committed during Ramadan are likely to be more severe than crimes committed outside of Ramadan.
Most commercial businesses and bureaucratic activities will slow down considerably during this period. The majority of businesses and government divisions will be closed from 2pm to 4pm. Iftar, which is sunset, signals the end of fast for the day. Often many businesses or government offices may also reopen for a few hours after Iftar. Almost all restaurants are closed during the day, but open with extended hours after Iftar. Most supermarkets are open, but does not permit food or beverage consumption on their premises. There may also be room service or dine-in areas in large hotels and shopping centers. The rules may change from year to year and region to region. If you are not sure about the rules of Ramadan, it is highly advisable to check with your local government for a full list of restrictions and rules.
The weekends in the UAE are on Friday and Saturday. Because Friday is a Muslim holy day, the weekends are different from what many westerns may be accustomed to. However, many international companies may require their non-Muslim workers to work on Fridays in order to conduct business with companies based in other countries. Please note that other Islamic countries may choose to observe their weekend on Thursday and Friday, instead of Friday and Saturday.