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Last Updated 8 April 2021

Ramadan is the holiest month on the Islamic Hijri (lunar) calendar. All Muslims are urged to elevate their level of spiritual and physical submission to God, through abstinence from eating, drinking, smoking, and also husband-wife intimacy from the breaking of dawn until the setting of the sun.

In 2021, Ramadan starts around 13 April. However, the ongoing pandemic has put certain ifs and buts on the celebration of this auspicious occasion. While Emiratis, thankfully, do not have to kiss goodbye to the Ramadan festivities and traditions altogether, they will have to adhere to the government’s regulations.

Mosques and prayers

Though the Taraweeh prayers will be allowed to be held in mosques across the country, they will be liable to certain protocols imposed by the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA).

  • Those with chronic illnesses or compromised immunity are advised not to pray in mosques and avoid crowds.
  • The duration of Taraweeh and Isha prayers will be capped at 30 minutes.
  • A decision regarding the Qiyam-ul-layl prayer will be announced later based on an evaluation of the situation.
  • Worshippers praying in mosques must bring their own prayer mats.
  • Worshippers should strictly avoid handshakes and any other physical greetings that breach physical distancing protocols.
  • Isha prayers will be held five minutes after the azan.
  • The mosque’s doors will be kept open from the beginning of the azan until the end of congregational obligatory prayer.
  • Performing a second congregational prayer or praying alone after the completion of main prayers is not permitted; worshippers must avoid crowding.
  • Women’s prayer halls will remain closed.
  • Religious lessons and meetings will be allowed in virtual mode only.
  • All mosques will close immediately after the prayers.
  • Only members of the same family dwelling in the same house will be allowed to share Iftar meals.
  • Iftar tents and communal Iftar meals at mosques are banned.
  • Family and friends gatherings and distributing and exchanging meals between homes and families are advised against.
  • Distribution of the Iftar meals is limited to labor housing complexes via direct coordination with the management, all the while ensuring strict social distancing.

Iftar meals and distribution of food

To curb the transmission of the virus through the handling of food, the authorities have laid down the following rules.

  • Only members of the same family dwelling in the same house will be allowed to share Iftar meals.
  • Iftar tents and communal Iftar meals at mosques are banned.
  • Family and friends gatherings and distributing and exchanging meals between homes and families is advised against.
  • Distribution of the Iftar meals is limited to labour housing complexes via direct coordination with the management, all the while ensuring strict social distancing.

Area-specific restrictions

Apart from the guidelines set at the national level, the respective authorities of different cities have also chalked out regulations depending upon the extent of infection in those areas.

Dubai

  • Cinemas and gyms can only operate at 50 percent capacity, while malls and hotels are capped at 70 percent.
  • Moreover, the capacity of all seated indoor venues are reduced to 50 percent.
  • Guests allowed on a hotel’s swimming pool and/or private beaches are limited to 70 percent.
  • Pubs and bars are temporarily closed.
  • Restaurants and cafes are expected to close by 1 AM and are not permitted to organize any type of entertainment activities.
  • The capacity of seated indoor venues, including cinemas as well as entertainment and sports venues, is limited to 50 percent.
  • International visitors and residents alike are required to provide a negative RT-PCR test certificate prior to arriving.
  • Social gatherings, such as wedding ceremonies or private parties are capped at 10 attendees.
  • For weddings, first-degree relatives are the only ones permitted to attend. This applies to ceremonies held in homes, hotels, and other venues.
  • In all cases, social distancing measures must be observed at all times.

Abu Dhabi

  • Attendance of government and semi-government offices has been limited to 30 percent.
  • Weekly PCR tests for unvaccinated employees.
  • Swimming pools, private beaches and gyms are capped at 50 percent, while shopping malls’ operational capacity is capped at 40 percent.
  • Restaurants, cafes, public beaches and parks at 60 percent, while taxis and buses are 45 and 75 percent respectively.
  • Cinemas are closed, while sports halls are limited to 5 percent capacity.
  • Parties and gatherings prohibited.
  • Wedding ceremonies and funerals are allowed with attendees limited to 10 and 20 attendees respectively.

Sharjah

  • Participants for social events and gatherings (such as weddings) being held at homes must not exceed 20 people.
  • Four meters of social distancing must be observed at all times. Additionally, face masks must be worn at all times.
  • It is advised to avoid any and all physical contacts such as hugs, handshakes and kisses.
  • The duration of such an event must not exceed four hours. Tables are limited to 50 percent capacity.

Ajman

  • All unvaccinated government employees are required to take a PCR test once every seven days. This also applies to the emirates of Umm Al Quwain.
  • All food and beverage establishments must be closed for business by midnight.

Ras Al Khaimah

  • Distributing Iftar food in front of homes and at public places will not be entertained.
  • Restaurants serving communal meals must take care of hygiene and wear masks and gloves.
  • Iftar meals should be packed in boxes or bags that close tightly.
  • Government employees who haven’t been inoculated yet will have to take the PCR test once a week.