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Updated March 2023
During the month of Ramadan, Muslims are expected to increase their level of spiritual and physical submission to God through fasting. This means that they must refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, and even intimate relations with their spouse from dawn until sunset.
In the UAE, official regulations are in place to ensure the solemnity of Ramadan celebrations and to allow Muslims to deepen their spiritual engagement. We have compiled a comprehensive list of these regulations that are currently in effect during Ramadan. Keep reading to learn more.
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Ramadan 2023 rules in the UAE
During Ramadan, it is customary for residents and tourists in the UAE to demonstrate respect towards each other, particularly towards the Muslim community, which comprises the majority of the population. To ensure that the solemnity of Ramadan is upheld, the UAE government enforces strict regulations that apply during this period and takes action against those who show disrespect.
Restrictions on eating and drinking in public
The essence of Ramadan fasting involves refraining from eating and drinking, so it is prohibited to consume food, drinks, or gum in public during this month. However, children are typically exempt from this rule. Individuals who are not fasting, such as non-Muslims, pregnant women, and elderly individuals, may eat and drink in indoor establishments like cafes, eateries, or restaurants.
Food and beverages can also be served within indoor establishments. In certain cities, such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the use of screens and curtains is no longer mandatory. As long as the service takes place indoors, it will not be considered a violation of the rules.
Guidelines for malls and entertainment venues
Malls will remain open during the sacred month to meet essential shopping needs and to provide food and beverages for non-fasters. However, malls are not permitted to play loud music during this time.
Additionally, some licensed premises and bars are allowed to open during Ramadan, but with certain restrictions, such as no live music and minimal entertainment.
Working hours during Ramadan
During Ramadan, employees in the UAE can anticipate a reduction in working hours by two hours. Under the country’s labor law, private sector employees are required to work eight hours per day or 48 hours per week. With the reduction in working hours, employees will only be required to work six hours per day or 36 hours per week during Ramadan.
Check out our article below for more information about working hours during Ramadan in the UAE.
Emirate-specific Ramadan rules 2023
In addition to the general Ramadan rules that are followed throughout the UAE, each emirate also has its own specific rules and regulations for the holy month. These rules may vary depending on the cultural and religious practices of each emirate, as well as local traditions and customs.
As of now, only Sharjah has announced its official Ramadan rules for 2023. We will update this section as other emirates announce their respective Ramadan rules.
Sharjah is the first city in the UAE to announce new regulations and guidelines for Ramadan this year, aimed at governing all food establishments in the city during the holy month.
Permits for displaying food
Sharjah’s authority requires eateries in the city to hold permits if they wish to display their products. There are two types of permits available:
- permits for displaying menus and food preparation during the day at eateries, including those inside shopping centers, which cost AED 3,000
- permits for displaying snacks in front of eateries before Iftar, which cost AED 500.
Individuals interested in obtaining these permits can visit the food control section counter of the Sharjah Municipality, located in the Suburbs Affairs Department at Industrial Area 5.
In addition to the above rules, the municipality has also released the following Ramadan guidelines for eateries:
- customers are not allowed to be inside the dining hall
- food preparation and cooking processes are only allowed in the kitchen
- eateries may display food on the sidewalk of their premises
- food must be displayed in a closed glass box with a sliding or hinged door (at least 100 cm high)
- food must be placed in stainless steel containers
- food must be covered with aluminium foil or plastic wrappings
- food must be kept at the appropriate temperature
Permits for extending working hours
All businesses operating in Sharjah that wish to have their employees work beyond their usual working hours during Ramadan must obtain a permit from the local authority. This regulation applies to all establishments that operate beyond midnight, including stores and shops.
Certain establishments, such as restaurants, bakeries and cafeterias, that are specified by the Sharjah Municipality are not subject to this regulation and may extend their working hours without obtaining a permit. It’s important to note that engineering contractors are not eligible to apply for this permit.
Business owners can access www.shjmun.gov.ae to get this permit.