30th May 2016 (Updated 22nd May 2017)
The holy month of Ramadan is fast approaching. Although the start of Ramadan is officially dependent upon the sighting of the moon, it is anticipated to commence on Saturday 27th May this year and will usually last for 29 or 30 days (again depending upon the sighting of the moon). The end of Ramadan is celebrated with the Eid Al Fitr public holiday, which usually lasts for three days.
The lead up to Ramadan in Abu Dhabi and Dubai
This is always a crazy time of year. Everyone is extremely busy because it seems that most jobs have the deadline ‘before Ramadan’. This is because there is a general preconception that business moves along slowly or just doesn’t happen during Ramadan. This isn’t true. The Emirate doesn’t come to a stop. Business carries on as usual, albeit in reduced working hours.
How does Ramadan affect business in Abu Dhabi and Dubai?
Reduced working hours
This year, it has been announced that the public sector, including government departments, will operate between the hours of 9am – 2pm. The private sector working day will be reduced by two hours, according to by Saqr Ghobash, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE). This usually equates to 9am – 3pm for offices, whilst many food and beverage outlets will be closed during the daytime and open at Iftar in the evening (the time when Muslims break their fast) and carry on into the night. It should be noted, that private companies are not required to follow the same timings as the public sector. Schools will also have reduced timings.
Plan your meetings wisely
Keep meetings short and focused and ideally schedule them for the morning when your colleauges and business contacts will be more alert. Fasting combined with a dramatic change in routine can cause tiredness, irritability and dizziness amongst other feelings, so be patient when dealing with your Muslim colleagues and business partners. Also be mindful that if you usually meet for coffee or a business lunch, an evening Iftar could be a suitable alternative, and these are in abundance across Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Time to get things done
Although there is the preconception that Ramadan causes business to come to a halt, many use the time wisely to catch up on administration. Some people do leave the Emirate and travel overseas – this can work in your favour as the government departments and businesses will be quieter and therefore you can perhaps get your work passed through a little quicker. This is also a great time for networking and building relationships as Majlis are opened up across the city giving the opportunity to network with key figures that might not be in your usual contacts network.
Ramadan is a special time to be working in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Show respect to your Muslim business partners and colleagues and make the most of the experience.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Image courtesy of Rupert Gould
Written by Jenny Hunt, Founding Partner & CEO
Gateway Group Of Companies, Abu Dhabi & Dubai, UAE
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