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  • Writer's pictureJenny Hunt

Preparing Your Business For Ramadan In The UAE This Year

Updated 4th February 2024

Ramadan provides businesses with a unique opportunity to connect with the community and their clients to flourish. Our updated blog offers insights into the cultural sensitivities of the holy month and measures you can implement when preparing your business for Ramadan to shine bright in the eyes of your stakeholders.

Preparing your business for Ramadan

Ramadan dates can differ across the region

Ramadan lasts for a period of 29 or 30 days, depending upon the sighting of the moon. In the lead up to Ramadan, a special moon sighting committee will search for the crescent of the new moon each evening. Once it is spotted, Ramadan is officially called. Check social media and official local news sources for confirmation, after sunset around the date when it is anticipated to start. The same process is repeated to announce the end of Ramadan.

Given that the start of the holy month hinges on the moon sighting, Ramadan start dates aren't consistent globally. The variations in Ramadan dates across Muslim countries adds an important layer of complexity when doing business internationally during Ramadan. Check the local media for confirmation if Ramadan has started and what the local prayer times are.

Reduced working hours during Ramadan - It's the Law

The UAE Labour Law states that working hours should be reduced by two during the month of Ramadan. This applies to ALL employees, whether they are Muslim or not, and their full salary is paid, it is not reduced. It is saddening to see each year that companies continue to break this law, especially as this is such a 'giving' month.

Eating in the workplace during Ramadan

Everyone is banned from eating, drinking, smoking and chewing gum in public during daylight hours throughout Ramadan in the UAE. In the workplace, it is inappropriate to eat ad drink at a desk surrounded by fasting colleagues. Businesses are encouraged to provide a discreet area for non-Muslims to be able to eat and drink if they wish to, out of sight of their fasting Muslim colleagues.

Business meetings during Ramadan

  • Arrange business meetings in the morning. Fasting individuals are likely to be alert and focused.

  • Refrain from offering drinks and snacks during daytime meetings. If all attendees are non-Muslim, refreshments can be offered, but are not expected.

  • Suggest alternatives to working lunches, such as a video call.

  • It's common for businesses to extend invitations to Iftar to employees, suppliers, clients and important business connections. Iftar is the early-evening meal when Muslims break their daily fast. Hotels and restaurants throughout the UAE put on lavish Iftar buffets featuring local delicacies.

Ramadan dress code

It is considerate for non-Muslims to wear modest attire during the month of Ramadan. Women, can opt for loose-fitting clothes with long sleeves and hemlines below the knee. Men can opt for long-sleeve shirts and trousers instead of shorts.

Business giving during Ramadan

  • Businesses can provide financial support to the community by sponsoring an Iftar tent or donating directly towards Iftar meals for those less fortunate through Emirates Red Crescent and the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation.

  • Employees can register to be volunteers through the UAE's national Volunteer's programme. Numerous volunteering opportunities are listed on the website.

  • Business gifts are usually given to stakeholders at this time. Suitable gifts would include fruits, dates or hampers.

Eid public holiday

Eid Al Fitr marks the end of Ramadan and in the UAE it is granted as a four-day public holiday extending from 29 Ramadan to 3 Shawwal (Islamic dates in the Hijri calendar). The Eid Al Fitr festival celebrates the breaking of the fast and Muslims being able to eat during daylight hours. Offices and banks are closed during this public holiday, the specific dates for which are usually officially announced in the week prior.

Ramadan Decorations and Gifts

Welcome visitors to your office with a unique Ramadan wreath door decoration. Either hang it on your door or the wall in your reception area. Check out the Ramadan Decorations and Eid Decorations at Gateway Hand Crafted.

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Further Ramadan Reading:

  1. Mastering Ramadan: A Guide for Doing Business in the UAE in 2024

  2. 5 Ways To Help Your Business To Show Sensitivity And Cultural Respect During Ramadan

  3. Countdown to Ramadan: Q&A Guide to Timings in the UAE

  4. Ramadan Permits no longer needed for Restaurants in Abu Dhabi

  5. Abu Dhabi business during Ramadan - What you need to know

  6. Ramadan Timings Abu Dhabi: Useful changes you need to know.

  7. Business As Usual In Abu Dhabi During Ramadan (well almost)

Blog post photograph courtesy of Richard Gould.

First published on 16th March 2022.

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Written by Jenny Hunt

Founder, Gateway Group, Abu Dhabi & Dubai, United Arab Emirates

FORBES' Top 100 Most Influential Women in the Middle East

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