Every year, Ramadan occurs during different months of each year. What does Ramadan mean and what do I need to think about as tourist? What approach do I need to have and how do you behave as a tourist during Ramadan in a Muslim country? I have lived in the Middle East for 3 years and have personal experience with many tips I want to share with you.
RAMADAN – 10 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW AS TOURIST!
What does Ramadan mean? Well, it means that all Muslims must fast for a whole month, without eating, drinking, smoking or able to have sexual interaction between the sun’s rise and fall. Ramadan is the name of the ninth month of the Muslim calendar and a holy Muslim fasting month, which is one of Islam’s five pillars. The word Ramadan is Arabic and actually means “hot month” or “glowing desert sand”.
Ramadan takes place for about 30 days, which means a whole month and varies from year to year so check out before going to a Muslim country when Ramadan is about to take place. As a tourist it means some rules of conduct that may be good to know and that you need to know so nothing bad will happen during your stay in a Muslim country.
Anyone who violates Ramadan’s rules in public areas may be arrested, fined or, at worst, be detained by religious police in countries such as Marocco, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Therefore, I would like to invite you to think of some little extra details if you are going to travel to a Muslim country during Ramadan.
10 Things you need to know as a tourist during Ramadan:
If you are traveling to a Muslim country, you should be dressed respectfully. As a woman, you should cover your shoulders and knees. However, you don´t need to cover your hair.
2. Eat and drink:
During Ramadan, it is forbidden for tourists to eat, drink and smoke in public areas. No, you can´t even drink water from your water bottle in a shopping center. Tips! Enter a toilet if you are thirsty or need to eat a snack but don´t do it so other people can see you.
3. Closed stores:
No stores or restaurants are open as long as the sun is up. If you are in a Muslim country, make sure to relax in the hotel during day time or relax at the pool at your hotel. There is not much else you can do.
4. When the sun goes down:
During this period, the local commerce is a bit quieter. You won´t see any people in public areas everywhere you go during day time. The Muslim people are coming out only when the sun has gone down and that is also from that time shopping centers and restaurants opens. As a tourist, it’s only then you can find things to do.
No alcohol is served during Ramadan. In other words, you will not be able to buy any alcoholic beverages until the sun is down. It’s only in hotels and a few clubs you can buy alcoholic beverages. But there may be those destinations and hotels that completely choose not to serve alcohol during Ramadan. Check with your hotel if you want to have a beer to your food. To buy alcohol in a Muslim country, you need an alcohol license.
6. The Flight:
Already at the flight to a Muslim country, no alcohol is visible in the cabin. Depending on the airlines, they may also deny you alcoholic beverages during the trip, even though you ask for it because of their religion and its rules. Check with your airline what applies if you travel just before or during Ramadan.
Expect empty streets and shopping centers, closed tourist attractions in the middle of the day during Ramadan and challenges to find something to eat. In some countries, tourist attractions are open as usual, but I advise you to check it out! It is only until the evening that the streets are filled with people and the moody life is taking place. I’m not saying it’s impossible to find restaurants that serve food in the middle of the day, but there are very few and you should check where they are, so you don´t expect everything to be open as usual when you’re hungry. Then you can look for a restaurant for a long time, believe me – I’ve been in that situation!
8. Praying time:
You will hear prayer calls several times a day wherever you are.
Every evening the fast is broken with the Iftar meal. It includes grand buffets and huge tents with food and activities. This is a great opportunity to hang out with the local people.
Generally, you shouldn’t kiss each other in public places if you are in a Muslim country and especially not during Ramadan. Remember where you are in the world 🙂