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Everything you need to know about Ramadan

This month was the start of Ramadan here in the UAE and you may notice a few changes to normal life.

So what is Ramadan? Why is it so important? What do you need to know?

This article will explain it all…


What is Ramadan?

Ramadan marks the start of the holiest month in the Islamic calendar. It is a time when Muslims abstain from eating, drinking and smoking between sunrise and sunset.

It was also the month when the Qur’an was first revealed to the Prophet Mohammad.

This is a period of spiritual growth which is attained through prayer and self-control. It is a time for prayer, reflection and religious devotion.

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When does Ramadan Start?

Each year, Ramadan moves forward approximately 11 days from the year before, however the exact start of each Ramadan is unknown until the day it starts.

Ramadan begins only when there is a confirmed sighting of the first crescent of the new moon. This is known as Hilal. This means that different parts of the world may see this first crescent at slightly different times, perhaps a lunar calendar day later.

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Why does Ramadan change dates each year?

The Islamic calendar is based on the movements of the moon, whereas the Gregorian calendar, which is used by most of the western world, is based on the movements of the sun. This causes the date of Ramadan to move to approximately 11 days earlier each year than the pervious.

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Meals during Ramadan

During Ramadan, Muslims fast between sunrise and sunset.

The meal eaten before sunrise is called Suhoor, with the evening meal, or the meal that breaks the fasting, is called iftar, and is eaten after sunset.

For iftar, most people will enjoy dates, dried apricots and Ramadan juices before heading to the evening prayer. After this, family and friends come together to enjoy large meals.

Many hotels host buffets with traditional activities late into the night or early morning to celebrate Ramadan.

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What happens after Ramadan?

When Ramadan comes to an end, the festival called Eid al-Fitr begins as a celebration of the end of the fasting. At this time there is a public holiday, and many go on family holidays.


Do shops and restaurants close during Ramadan?

Most shops and restaurants will remain open during Ramadan, although some may change their opening hours slightly, so check before you travel. Many restaurants that remain open during the day will often erect panels or additional curtains to shield those who are fasting from those who are eating and drinking.

Shops and restaurants will often stay open much later than usual during Ramadan.


I am not a Muslim; can I get involved in Ramadan?

Even if you are not Muslim and are not fasting, you are welcome to join many of the iftar and suhoor events that are set up all over the country. These events are a way to bring our communities together.

Here are a few of the other ways you can get involved in Ramadan, even if you are not a Muslim.

  • Charity: Donate to Ramadan camps, donate care packages and help other charity organizations that are available.
  • Fast with your friends: Join your Muslim friends and colleagues and fast for a day or two, breaking the fast together at iftar.
  • Exchange greetings: By exchanging the phrase ‘Ramadan Kareem’, you are wishing someone a ‘generous Ramadan.’


Did you know Ramadan brings some other everyday perks?

  • Reduced working hours: Most offices in the UAE will reduce their working hours to 6 hours per day, leaving you with more family time.
  • Free parking: Many areas in the UAE will change or give extra hours of free parking.
  • Shopping discounts and offers: Many brands and shops will offer special deals or discounts during Ramadan. Make sure you keep an eye out of these.


This Ramadan, we at Allianz Global Assistance are offering 20% off all travel insurance using the code EID2018 at checkout. Visit our site now to book (link to here:


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