You’re all excited for your Dubai getaway. Then you realize something: your dates fall during Ramadan. Now, you’re worried you might somehow inconvenience the locals (or be inconvenienced yourself).
Don’t worry, you don’t need to change your plans. In fact, this might just prove to be the best time of the year to visit.
From the unusually quiet life of the city to non-crowded malls to discounts you can’t get at any other time of the year, Ramadan presents a perfect time for exploring Dubai.
If you love food, then you definitely want to know all about Iftar––a period characterised with all-you-can-eat feasts, games, socializing, and lots of other fun activities.
What is Iftar?
Islam is characterized by Five Pillars of Faith, one of which is the pious act of fasting. For this reason, during the month of Ramadan, observant Muslims don’t eat or drink during the day. They practice strict fasting, abstaining from not just food but also other acts such as drinking, smoking, sex and false deeds, talk, and even thoughts. And, no, they can’t even chew gum.
So, when do they eat?
This is the meal that breaks their fast at the end of the day. It’s also known as sawm and begins just after sunset. They also have another meal before the fasting day begins i.e. pre-dawn. This is known as the suhoor.
Traditionally, Muslims break the fast with a light meal such as dates and water or yoghurt. After the Maghrib prayer (this is the prayer just after sunset), they can have a full-course meal. Typically, this includes soup, appetizers, salad and the main dishes. While most people start preparing for the full-course meal right after Maghrib, some cultures delay it till later in the evening or even early the next morning.
At its core, Iftar is a social event that involves the family and members of the community coming together.
It’s standard for Muslims to invite others to share the dinner with them or gather the community for a potluck. And anyone can be invited. It’s common to see non-Muslims feasting with Muslims during Iftar. This hand also extends to the less fortunate in the community. During Ramadan, the spiritual reward for charitable giving is held in very high regard.
When you get invited
Again, it’s very common for Muslims to invite non-Muslims to enjoy Iftar. So, if you happen to be in Dubai during Ramadan, there’s a high chance you’ll be invited to dinner, especially if you’ve already made a few friends.
So, what do you do when you get invited?
The first thing is to accept the invitation. When it’s time, bring a present like dates, sweets, or any Arabic desserts that you can find. Just don’t go empty-handed. You can also use the time to volunteer some time and help out setting up the tents that serve Iftar.
If you get an invitation, consider yourself lucky. Not only is this a chance for you to build stronger relationships over a hearty meal, but it can also help you better understand the culture and embrace the holy month of Ramadan.
Enjoy Iftar your own way
While an invitation is nice, there’s nothing stopping you from enjoying your own Iftar dinner while in Dubai during Ramadan. Restaurants all across the city serve Iftar, ranging from decadent, multi-course meals to humble, traditional offerings to, yes, even vegan Iftars.
This way, if you’re traveling to the country with family, friends, or by yourself, you don’t need to know any locals in order to embrace the unique local Ramadan culinary culture.
For local residents living in Dubai, it is common to attend Iftars with family, friends and colleagues. It is a great way to learn about Islamic culture and experience some of the traditions of Ramadan.
Experience an authentic 1950’s Bedouin Iftar with us
To top it all off, Platinum Heritage offers you a chance to experience the culture at its best. We take you back to the Times of Bedouin camps and show you exactly how the Emirati forefathers celebrated the great meal of Iftar. Complete with all the popular traditional meals, this experience is as authentic as it gets.
If you’re visiting Dubai and are not sure what to expect or how to behave while there, we wrote an ebook on how to celebrate Ramadan in Dubai . It’s long enough to cover everything and short enough to allow you fast reading. It’s your best bet for a great Ramadan experience in Dubai.
At Platinum Heritage we host traditional Iftars in our authentic Bedouin camps in the desert all throughout Ramadan. Join us for one of these delicious feasts and taste some of the mouth-watering traditional dishes like lamb ouzi and luqeymat.