As Ramadan draws near, residents in the United Arab Emirates are gearing up for the changes that come with this holy month.
The start of Ramadan changes every year based on the Islamic calendar, which consists of 12 lunar months totaling either 354 or 355 days. This causes the fasting month to move up to 10 days earlier each year in the Gregorian calendar.
This year, it is expected to fall on March 22 or 23 until April 21. However, dates may vary based on the sighting of the new crescent moon that indicates the month of Shawwal’s arrival, or after the 30th day of Ramadan.
The communal spirit of the season brings about various customs and traditions that are observed by both Muslims and non-Muslims in the UAE.
The holy month also affects several peoples’ schedules with reduced working hours, shorter school days and different parking timings.
Here’s everything you need to know:
Reduced working hours
Reduced working hours are one of the most notable changes that come with Ramadan. Employers are expected to reduce work hours by two hours without cutting salaries, and this applies to non-Muslims as well.
As per the country’s labor law, private sector workers are required to work eight hours per day or 48 hours per week. However, during the Holy Month, working hours are reduced by two hours daily, meaning that workers will only be required to work six hours per day or 36 hours per week.
The time it takes to commute from the employee’s place of residence to the workplace will not constitute working hours, except for certain categories of workers as specified by the ‘Executive Regulations of the Labor Law.’
Those who are fasting during Ramadan will maintain up to 14 hours of fasting per day. Each day, the duration of the fast will increase by a few minutes, so it is important to plan your day accordingly.
School timings during Ramadan
Students also enjoy shorter school hours with some institutions having Ramadan timings from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm from Monday to Thursday, and from 8:00 am to 11.30 am on Fridays.
Although physical education lessons will continue, students who are fasting will not be required to take part in them.
In addition to this, students in some schools across the country might have up to two weeks off during Ramadan, according to several local news reports last week.
Spring break at several schools in the country may fall during the holy month, giving students the chance to spend time with their families during that period.
Restaurant opening hours
While most people in the UAE will be fasting during the day, some malls and restaurants will remain open during Ramadan to serve non-Muslims, children, and the elderly. But it is important to remember that these establishments will still be expected to adhere to the rules and regulations set out by the UAE government during Ramadan.
Restaurants also adapt their operating hours, with many closed during the day and only opening after evening prayers. However, they are bustling at night and extend operations until Suhoor.
Meanwhile, supermarkets and grocery stores continue to operate as usual, with some malls staying open until late at night.
Changes to parking timings
Parking timings are also affected during Ramadan.
Although there are no official announcements yet, previous years’ schedules saw Mawaqif parking fees applied from 8am to 12 midnight from Saturday to Thursday in Abu Dhabi, with parking being free on Fridays and public holidays.
In Dubai, parking fees apply from 8am to 6pm and 8pm to 12 midnight from Monday to Saturday, with parking being free on Sundays.
Multi-storey parking operates as a paid service 24/7.
In Sharjah, parking is a paid service from 8am to 12 midnight, with some zones offering free parking on Fridays and public holidays.
Ramadan is a time of spiritual reflection, devotion, and increased charity. It is a time for Muslims to deepen their connection to God and to practice compassion and kindness towards others.
The UAE is a country that welcomes people of all faiths and backgrounds, and during Ramadan, it is important for all residents and visitors to show respect and support for the Muslim community.
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