History & Facts
The Holy Month of Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and the month that the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Special night-time prayers throughout Ramadan ensure that the mosques are particularly active.
Ramadan is a period of fasting during which all Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sexual activity during daylight hours. Pregnant women, children, the sick, and those traveling are the only exceptions. Westerners are expected, as a matter of respect, to comply with the requirements of the fast. It is a punishable offence to be caught breaking the fast between dusk and dawn; the penalty is jail for the remainder of Ramadan
Each day at sunset the fast is broken with ‘Iftar’, traditionally consisting of dates and water or sweet laban, a type of drinking yoghurt. Iftar times are published in the newspapers and are announced by mosques. The main meal of the day (Ghabgha) is enjoyed later in the evening. Many of the five-star hotels erect Ramadan tents specifically for this feast, and lay out a traditional buffet. This is a meal to be enjoyed slowly, followed by Arabic coffee, dates and shisha smoking. It is a time to sit with family and friends and enjoy Ramadan atmosphere.
Office and Ministry hours change during Ramadan, as do the timings for all retail outlets. The roads become extremely congested at 1pm, when the Ministries and government organizations tend to close. Ramadan culminates in a three-day celebration called Eid Al Fitr - feast of the breaking of the fast.