To Dubai’s large non-Muslim expatriate community, the Islamic month of Ramadan - where adherents refrain from eating, drinking and smoking during daylight hours - can prove challenging, with many social activities made off-limits until nightfall.
Some expats choose to join in, but for those who are not thrilled by the prospect of a 15-hour fast in sweltering summer conditions, there are plenty of other things to do.
The good news is, company employees legally only have to work six-hour days during Ramadan – whether Muslim or not – giving many a lot more time in the day.
With many companies frequently reporting less trade during the month, most firms find themselves with a distinct change of pace.
So here is a list of things to keep you occupied until the end of Ramadan:
Shop for a new car
Due to a trend Al Arabiya English calls “Ramadanomics,” where many retailers try to lure in customers with promotions and special offers, there is arguably never a better time to buy a gleaming new motor.
In addition to the more standard offerings of raffles, 0 percent financing options and accessory upgrades, some showrooms are going the extra mile.
Last year, Al-Rostamani, the United Arab Emirates’ authorized Citroen dealer, promises purchasers a free holiday in Paris for two nights and three days in a “fabulous” hotel, as well as a five-year unlimited kilometer warranty on the car. “Ooh la la!” you say?
Which brings us neatly to the next activity.
Go on holiday
The UAE’s location at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and the Middle East makes any time a prime time for a getaway.
For those who do not fast, what better than a quick break to one of the many destinations just a short flight from Dubai?
Some options to consider include the Georgian capital Tbilisi, just 3.5 hours away by plane, which offers tourists famed Caucasian hospitality, old-world charm and affordable accommodation.
In addition to being in the same time zone (so no jet lag), its relatively weak currency means it can be enjoyed for a fraction of the cost of more common destinations.
Another, more popular destination is Istanbul in neighboring Turkey. With its delicious cuisine, renowned culture and world-famous sites, there is plenty on offer for the average traveler.
Additionally, its average monthly temperature in June of just under 22 degrees centigrade could be a breath of fresh air for the average UAE resident.
Book a ‘staycation’
With Dubai’s 650-plus hotels often struggling for occupancy during Ramadan, it is no surprise that the fasting month is the time to snap up some of the best deals on offer.
In an effort to lure in “staycationers,” the five-star Marriott Marquis on Sheikh Zayed Road – the tallest hotel in the world – is offering deals where you can stay three nights and only pay for two, a 50-percent discount in its restaurants, and big spa discounts, among other offers.
Take up a hobby
Language-learning, yoga or even tango. With the shorter working hours, what better time than now to take up a new hobby?
The Eton Institute, based in Knowledge Village, offers more than 100 language courses, including German, Chinese, Swedish, Russian, and even sign language.
Those who want to learn to effortlessly slide across the dance floor can take up tango, with one school, Tango-OK – based in Dubai’s Jumeirah Lake Towers.
For those who feel the need to relax and stretch their muscles, Dubai-based Zen Yoga – with locations in Media City, Emirates Hills and Jumeirah Town Center – offers morning and evening classes to suit every schedule.
Live as normal. When all is said and done, life need not be radically different during Ramadan.
For those in need of retail therapy (and many in Dubai report that the mood strikes often), shopping malls are still open, with many – including Dubai Mall and the Mall of Emirates – allowing dining in the food court and restaurants during the day.
If you are lucky, your Muslim friends or co-workers may invite you to an iftar, where you can enjoy a delicious meal and good company.
Whatever happens this Ramadan, do not forget to have fun and participate as much as you can in the cultural experience!SHOW MORE