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  • Writer's pictureJenny Hunt

Working During Ramadan In Abu Dhabi - What To Expect

Updated 3rd February 2024.

Whether you are new to Abu Dhabi, preparing for your first Ramadan experience in a Muslim country, or collaborating with Abu Dhabi businesses from afar, understanding what to expect during the holy month is key to operating smoothly and successfully. Newcomer, working with Abu Dhabi businesses from overseas, or seasoned resident, make the most of Ramadan with this updated blog guide.

For newcomers, this valuable guide offers insights to the unique nuances of working during Ramadan in Abu Dhabi to enhance your understanding and elevate your business experience during Ramadan; whilst for long-time residents, consider these points a useful reminder.


What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, which is called the Hijri calendar. It is when Muslims exercise self control, discipline and fasting during day light hours. It’s a spiritual time for reflection. The hardship of fasting during daylight hours is intended to help Muslims empathize with the poor and appreciate all that they have. It is also a time that Muslims celebrate with family and friends, and give to the community.

When does Ramadan start in Abu Dhabi?

Whilst astrological calculations can anticipate the Ramadan start date, the Holy Month officially commences upon the sighting of the new moon by the UAE's moon sighting committee. Check local media around the anticipated start date, after sunset, to check if the new moon has been sighted and the moon sighting committee have called the start of Ramadan.

As the Hijri calendar is is based on the monthly cycles of the moon, the Ramadan start date changes every year. It is approximately 10 days early each year.

How long does Ramadan last?

The Holy Month of Ramadan usually lasts for 29 or 30 days, ending when the next new moon is sighted. The end of Ramadan is celebrated with an Islamic festival called Eid Al Fitr, which is a four-day public holiday in the UAE*.


How does Ramadan affect working in Abu Dhabi?

Ramadan working hours

The UAE federal law states that everyone's usual working hours are reduced by two hours each day during the month of Ramadan, irrespective of religion.

Fasting for Ramadan

Fasting is probably one of the first things that comes to mind when Ramadan is mentioned. This is a practice where nothing should pass the lips of a fasting Muslim between sunrise and sunset. Non-Muslims are also expected to respect this tradition by refraining from eating, drinking smoking and chewing gum in public during fasting hours in the UAE. However, exceptions are made for those in licensed restaurants, coffee shops or designated food courts within Abu Dhabi's shopping malls.

It's important to note that not all Muslims fast during Ramadan. Exemptions include individuals experiencing pregnancy, menstruation, travel, old age and illness. 

Interestingly, many expats living in Abu Dhabi attempt to embrace the spirit of Ramadan by fasting. This helps them to better understand the emotions and experiences of their Muslim colleagues and friends. However, its important not to dehydrate. Those attempting fasting for the first time should seek medical advice to ensure their well-being.

Show consideration for those fasting

Fasting may lead to sleepiness and dizziness, impacting cognitive functions and behaviour. Be patient and show understanding with those fasting. Refrain from engaging in aggressive behaviour and using swear words, as they are considered more offensive at this time.

Ramadan dress code

Conservative dressing is appreciated. Ladies, opt for loose-fitting clothes with long sleeves and hemlines below the knee, ensuring covered shoulders and avoiding low-necklines. Men, opt to wear long-sleeve shirts and trousers instead of shorts.

Ramadan workplace respect

Demonstrate extra consideration for your Muslim colleagues in the workplace during Ramadan. Choose to listen to music using earphones instead of playing it loudly in public area. Note that in public venues, music will be paused and sometimes, the reading of the Qu'ran may be used as a replacement.

Ramadan meetings etiquette

During Ramadan, it is advisable to avoid afternoon meetings, as fasting Muslims are more-likely to be feeling tired and unfocused. Afternoons are typically reserved for rest before Iftar, the breaking of the fast.

Ramadan giving

Individuals and organizations generously donate money and goods to charitable organizations during Ramadan to help those less fortunate. Some people volunteer delivering Ramadan food boxes, assisting with renovation projects, or to spend time having Iftar with those needing companionship.

Ramadan gifts

Businesses commonly send Ramadan gifts to Muslim business partners and clients, accompanied by messages of “Ramadan Kareem”. Dates and Arabic sweets are typical gifts, and Ramadan calendars are popular with children.

Iftar and Suhoor invitations

It is polite to accept invitations to Iftar and Suhoor feasts. A private Iftar is an opportunity not to be missed, providing a traditional cultural experience.

Business Iftar

If you typically arrange business lunches, consider an alternative with a business Iftar.

Developing business relationships during Ramadan

Ramadan is a very important time for building relationships. Although many people perceive business activities to slow down, Majlis gatherings are opened throughout the city, providing an opportunity to connect with individuals who may be outside your existing network, including government officials and dignitaries. The Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Ramadan Majlis is renowned for hosting prominent speakers and experts for presentations.

Take care driving during Ramadan

Exercise care while driving, especially around Iftar, as people rush to reach family and friends to break their fast together. The combination of rushing, hunger and tiredness can lead to accidents.

In conclusion, understanding and respecting the nuances of business etiquette during Ramadan is beneficial to everyone. Embracing the traditions strengthens professional relationships, contributes to more harmonious workplaces and fosters lasting impacts of companies' endeavours.

Ramadan is a truly special time. Living and working in Abu Dhabi provides expats with a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in Arabic culture firsthand.

Ramadan Kareem from everyone at the Gateway Group.

Scan the QR code to whatsapp message Awais Chughtai Gateway Group GM about your business setup in Abu Dhabi during Ramadan

Business setup during Ramadan in Abu Dhabi

Gateway Group isn't just a company formation services - we're your trusted guides through the cultural nuances of Ramadan. Leverage our decades of experience and cultural expertise to:

  • Streamline your registration: We handle the setup process. You focus on your business.

  • Embrace cultural sensitivities: Ensure your brand messaging and operations resonate seamlessly during Ramadan.

  • Tailored Guidance: Gain expert insights to maximize your business potential during this unique season.

Don't settle for a simple company registration. Partner with Gateway Group for your successful setup this Ramadan. Contact us today to get started.

Scan the QR code to send a Whatsapp message to Awais Chughtai, Gateway Group's GM, who is ready to help you.

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. Preparing Your Business For Ramadan In The UAE This Year

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

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

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

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

First published on 1st June 2015.

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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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