Everything you need to know about Ramadan: FAQs on the holy month

Ramadan is the Islamic holy month that stands for abstinence, purity, and worship. Here is an updated list of everything you need to know about Ramadan and its significance.


Rida Jaleel

Published: Mon 20 Mar 2023, 12:26 PM

Last updated: Wed 22 Mar 2023, 11:15 AM

As the city is decking up to prepare itself for Ramadan, here are the answers to all the questions you might have about the holy month in Dubai. Whether you’re a resident, an expat, or a tourist, here is a list of FAQs for you on the month of Ramadan.

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, during which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset as an act of worship. Saum or fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam. Ramadan is a month of huge cultural and religious significance to Muslims, celebrated with seriousness and faith. Muslims abstain from eating and drinking from dawn, breaking their fast only when they hear the Maghreb call for prayer in mosques at dusk. Ramadan is considered highly sacred as it is the month when the Holy Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, according to the scriptures.

How many hours do Muslims have to fast in Ramadan?

Depending on where you are in the world, a typical fasting day could last anywhere from 11 to 20 hours depending on the climate and length of the day. In the UAE and the Middle East at large, Muslims will have to fast between 12 and 14 hours.

What is Suhoor?

Suhoor, Suhur, or Sahri, refers to the meal eaten by Muslims before the beginning of the fast. Muslims pray five times a day. The Suhoor is consumed before the first of the five prayers, Fajr, which is at the crack of dawn. It is eaten in order to prepare and fortify your body for more than 10 hours of fasting.

What is Iftar?

Iftar is the fast-breaking meal that Muslims who observe Ramadan consume at sunset. It is considered mandatory to break the fast once the Maghreb ‘Adhaan’ (call for prayer) is delivered from your nearest mosque. It is tradition to break the fast with a date and to share the blessed occasion with friends and/or family.

Will there be changes in the work timings in the UAE during Ramadan?

Yes. Since fasting is an activity that is strenuous and requires energy and commitment, the UAE government has declared that employees in all companies in the private sector can work two hours less every working day during Ramadan. This equates to not more than 6 working hours a day.

What are the revised school timings during Ramadan?

The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) has declared that private school timings will be slashed to five hours a day. This is to help and encourage students, teachers and other staff members who will be fasting.

Does Ramadan apply to children?

Children who have not reached the age of puberty are not expected to fast as their growing bodies might not necessarily be able to adjust to the long periods of abstaining from food and drink. However, once they reach the age of puberty, they are encouraged to partake in the practice of fasting. Even though young children don’t need to fast, you can always encourage in them the spirit of giving and faith that Ramadan embodies.

How can I support my Muslim friends or coworkers who are fasting?

Even though you might not be fasting, there are plenty of ways in which you can partake in the lovely spirit of the holy month of Ramadan:

  • You could attempt to fast with your Muslim friends or coworkers giving them company in the spiritual act. This could give you an insight into how it is, empathise with and understand them better.
  • You could refrain from eating and drinking in front of your fasting friends or coworkers in order to encourage them in their practice of fasting and to make it easier on them.
  • Zakat, or charity, is a huge part of the holy month of Ramadan. If you really want to partake in and support the message, you could donate however small an amount to the unfortunate as charity is a noble and secular aim.
  • Make sure to say yes to all those Iftar invitations! Community is a large aspect of fasting and you are allowed to join your Muslim friends and coworkers in their fast-breaking ceremony. In fact, contribute to the Iftar by bringing a snack of your own to lend your support!

So there, we hope that we’ve cleared all your doubts regarding Ramadan in the UAE. The month of Ramadan is very auspicious and is one that is filled with faith and joy. We hope that you’re able to partake in its message of compassion, kindness, and purity, no matter your religious status!

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