Tips for Travelling to the Middle-East during Ramadan
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and if you’re planning on travelling to the Middle-East during this time, you’re in for a fascinating experience. The dates of this holy month change from year to year, so be sure to check Ramadan 2017 dates.
It is a common misconception that Muslim countries are off limits during Ramadan, but it is actually a wonderful time to visit the Middle-East and as always, they welcome travellers with open arms. It is a very special time of year for all Muslims and the nightlife during this time is incredible. Many people are up through the night visiting friends, praying and eating feasts.
The daily life of local’s changes dramatically during these months and it gives tourists a chance to see a whole new side to the regions and culture.
Here are some tips on how to prepare you for travel to the Middle-East during Ramadan to ensure the best possible experience.
Eating & drinking in the Middle East during Ramadan
As a non-Muslim tourist, you are not expected to fast, but if you want to be respectful it is advised not to eat or drink in public. Some Middle-East countries have laws during Ramadan that you should not eat or drink in public between certain hours and restaurants will have regulations. However, bigger cities and tourist hotspots will be more lenient. It’s more culturally respectful to not eat or drink in public and it’s best to try and stick to this as much as possible.
The break of the fast at sunset is called Iftar and it’s a celebrated event every day during Ramadan. Many restaurants will offer special Iftar Menus and you will see many Muslims being joyful together. It’s a wonderful time to be out and it is not uncommon for locals, guides and taxi drivers to invite respectful tourists to break the fast with their family.
Clothing in the Middle East during Ramadan
It is important to dress respectfully when travelling to the Middle-East during Ramadan. Women in particular are expected to cover up when they are in public. Long skirts, loose trousers and tops that cover the shoulders and upper arms are best to wear in the Middle-East this time of year. Men should wear T-shirts and at least knee length shorts when out and about.
Behaviour in the Middle East during Ramadan
Ramadan is a time of quiet reflection and holiness. During the day, the mood in the Middle-East will be much more low-key. In order to be respectful, avoid listening to loud music and save any singing or dancing for the evening during Iftar.
Do not go out in public drunk during Ramadan, you will struggle to find any liquor stores open during this time anyway. High-end restaurants and hotels will still serve alcohol, but if you do drink be sure to avoid public intoxication. Similarly, refrain from using bad language and any boisterous behaviour.
Enjoy the Ramadan Celebrations
Muslims are overjoyed when non-Muslims join in with their celebrations, so do not be shy. After Iftar, the streets come alive again and there is often night festivals that last through the nights until; dawn prayer. Eid-ul-Adha celebrates the end of Ramadan and large street parties, celebrations and fireworks occur. This is a great time to be in the Middle-East and you will feel the happy and celebratory atmosphere anywhere you go.
Many businesses will operate on reduced hours during Ramadan, so be sure to research this before your visit and plan ahead. Don’t plan on doing anything just before or just after sunset when people break their fast with the evening meal. During this time, everything grinds to a halt as many people are either at home or heading home and you will struggle to find a taxi.