‘Eating, drinking openly’: Some UAE residents shocked by ‘inappropriate behaviour’ during Ramadan

Restaurants in Dubai are now permitted to remain open during fasting hours, reflecting how the emirate embraces its diverse population


Waad Barakat


Ruqayya Al Qaydi

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Published: Wed 3 Apr 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Wed 3 Apr 2024, 8:36 PM

A video posted by a long-term resident has prompted discussion among UAE residents regarding shifts in people's attitudes and behaviours during the holy month of Ramadan. These include eating, drinking and smoking in public during fasting hours, dressing inappropriately and public displays of affection.

British expat Emma Brain's video has gained widespread attention, starting a conversation about respecting and upholding certain cultural ethos during Ramadan.

Eating and drinking out

"I was shocked to see people openly eating, drinking, and smoking during fasting hours. Understandably, some places are open, but there still should be a level of respect during this month. Showing respect to the place and the people makes a difference," Emma told Khaleej Times.

Restaurants in Dubai are now permitted to remain open during fasting hours, reflecting how the emirate embraces its diverse population, who now call the UAE their home.

Sharing her opinion, Hamda R, an Emirati, said it is a "lack of respect" shown during Ramadan by some individuals. "I was shocked this Ramadan; some are eating, drinking, and smoking in public."

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She called on non-fasting individuals to enjoy their meals in the privacy of their homes or select restaurants that accommodate visitors away from public space.

Public display of affection

Emma also pointed out the public display of affection (PDA) she noticed during Ramadan. According to the Brit, she witnessed instances that were deemed inappropriate within the local cultural context.

"It is really inappropriate when people go overboard with their show of affection," Emma said.

Emma Brain
Emma Brain

Aisha M, an Emirati resident of Dubai, shared a personal experience where she witnessed inappropriate behaviour. "I was with my sisters at a theme park when I saw some couples showing affection openly. It was disturbing as we have a community and family-friendly culture everywhere."

'Dress modestly, please'

Referring to some of the choices of clothing made by some, Emma said they wouldn't be dressed in those even in their home countries.

"Why would you wear it here? Sometimes you see people just wandering around in public in gym clothing, everything's on show. Men and women, just super short shorts."

Tatiana Skoryna, a popular influencer originally from Ukraine, who has been residing in Dubai for nine years, used her platform to showcase her respect for local customs during Ramadan. In a video, Tatiana donned an abaya, a traditional garment worn by many women in the UAE, to demonstrate the transition in her lifestyle before and after Ramadan as a solidarity with Muslims practicing fasting.

Tatiana Skoryna
Tatiana Skoryna

"I believe it's important to show respect for the culture and traditions of the country that has become my home. Wearing an abaya during Ramadan is a gesture of appreciation and understanding of the significance of this holy month," Tatiana told Khaleej Times.

She also addressed her frustration with the "lack of respect" she observed from some people towards Ramadan customs. She felt compelled to use her platform as an influencer to educate and inspire her followers. "It saddens me to see people disregarding the cultural sensitivities of Ramadan. This is a time of reflection, self-discipline, and empathy for others," Tatiana stated.

Emma also noted that in the past, shopping malls would enforce dress codes by approaching individuals directly or providing reminder notices. People would be respectfully asked to cover themselves or handed leaflets, reminding them of the dress code.

Malls still display posters at entrances asking people to wear modest clothes and to not display overt affection.

While Emma and Tatiana's videos gained lot of traction online, there were some who do not agree with them. They encouraged everyone to respect others' choices.

Khawla Mohammed, an Emirati from Dubai said, "Ultimately, it's an individual’s choice."

Responding to Emma’s video, Romabobu posted “How about fasting and minding our own business instead of looking what others do or wear as long as they don’t bother or harass us? You can advise but it should not affect your ways of living.”


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