The UAE is renowned as a land of spectacle and constant activity, but during Ramadan, cities like Abu Dhabi and Dubai put on a very different, slower-paced face, as families look to spend more time with each other and business hours change as a mark of respect for the Holy Month.
But that doesn’t mean the UAE shuts down completely, there are still plenty of things to do in Ramadan, some of which can only be experienced during this time of peace and charity. Great food remains a central part of life in the UAE, even in this time of fasting, with many of the region’s best restaurants laying on amazing meals for Suhoor and Iftar.
Here, we offer our guide to celebrating ‘the best of times’ with the whole family in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and making the most of this special period in the Islamic calendar. Remember, wherever you need to get to during Holy Month, Uber is here to help
Indulge in a fantastic Suhoor
The traditional pre-dawn meal is an excellent way to get set up for your day, and the UAE boasts some beautiful picturesque places to consume it.
If you are spending Ramadan in Abu Dhabi, check out lavish surroundings of the Emirates Palace’s Ramadan Pavilion and enjoy their signature Kunafa, ideal for those with a sweet tooth!
Alternatively, you can check out the Mijana at The Ritz-Carlton Grand Canal, looking out over the water while you are served an excellent mezze selection.
In Dubai, Dallah, named after the traditional Arabian coffee pot and situated at the Emirates Golf Club, offers a chilled, modern setting with both inside and outside seating.
Pick up some last-minute bargains
Eid Al Fitr is a time of gift giving, and the opportunity to find gifts for the whole family are helped by the number of flash sales that happen around the holidays. Dubai’s malls are famous the world over and, with the number of special events during the holiday, there are few better times to go shopping in them than at Ramadan!
If you want to combine shopping with spectacle, then head over to the Ibn Battuta Mall. Inspired by the famous Moroccan explorer, it is considered the largest themed mall in the world and combines beautiful mosaic art with the chance to pick up some incredible bargains.
In Abu Dhabi, the five levels of the Marina Mall play host to every type of shopping experience you could possibly want and the revolving restaurant at the top of its 30-story observation tower offers an excellent view of the city and the Persian Gulf.
Discover the best Iftars
Once the sun has gone down, it’s time to break your fast, and if you are spending Ramadan in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, that means the chance to experience some of the best food in the UAE served in the amazing communal atmosphere of Iftar.
In Abu Dhabi, biryani is an ever-popular Iftar dish, and some of the best biryani can be found in the traditional Indian eatery, the Biryani Pot. If you are looking for something more traditional, then check out the Arabic coffee, Arabian decor, and line up of spectacular Iftar entertainment at Sofra bld in the Shangri-La Hotel.
If you are celebrating Ramadan in Dubai, then head over to Awani at The Beach, JBR for the best in traditional Levant cuisine. Enjoy signature dish Mansaf Lahmeh, slow-roasted slices of lamb fillet cooked in a yoghurt sauce and served with herby rice.
Have you spent all day hoovering up the bargains at the Dubai Mall? Then head over to the Symphony in Fashion Avenue and enjoy Iftar in their boutique eatery, TWO. Indulge your sweet tooth with their artisanal bakes, made freshly each day by their in-house bakery team.
Eid Al Fitr
Eid Al Fitr is a chance to experience the best that Ramadan in the UAE has to offer, combining fantastic food, exciting entertainment and spending time with friends and family.
Head over to the Seven Sands in Dubai for Emirati-style feast of slow-cooked succulent lamb, served with rice and topped with fried pine nuts and enjoy coffee served with luqaimat, small doughnut-like balls dipped in honey, that are a staple of the holiday.
If you have kids to entertain, then Dubai’s top theme parks, like the IMG Worlds of Adventure put on special Eid shows featuring Disney favorites. There are also a plethora of roaming shows, musical performances, dances and other unique entertainment put on by the emirate’s top malls and entertainment venues.
The Holy Month might be a time to focus on family and charity, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to do in Ramadan! You can expect to eat excellent food, enjoy everything the UAE usually has to offer (although at a slower pace) and celebrate Eid with spectacular entertainment.
We hope you enjoy Ramadan in the UAE, whether in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, as much as possible. Ramadan Mubarak!