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Ramadan 2024: A guide to doing business in Dubai during the holy month

From cultural nuances to reduced working hours, here’s everything you need to know during Ramadan

Doing business during Ramadan brings with it several considerations.

For billions of Muslims worldwide, this holy month signifies an important time for prayer, worship, and fasting from dawn to dusk. In Dubai, one of the Middle East’s top centres for business, Ramadan observance brings both opportunities and considerations for businessmen and companies operating in the emirate.

From cultural nuances to reduced working hours, here’s everything you need to know.

Understand the significance of Ramadan

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and commemorates the first revelation of the Quran to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

During the holy month, Muslims abstain from food, drink, and other activities from dawn to dusk, fostering self-discipline, empathy for the less fortunate, and a deeper connection with their faith.

Take time to learn about the history and rituals associated with this month of fasting, prayer, and spiritual reflection. The act of fasting (sawm) from dawn to dusk helps with self-discipline, empathy, and humility.

Adjust your work hours and schedules

Most government entities and private businesses in Dubai will implement reduced working hours during Ramadan, often starting later (around 9:00 or 10:00 AM) and finishing earlier (around 2:00 or 3:00 PM). Some may even have a half-day on Fridays.

Plan meetings and projects accordingly to accommodate your Muslim staff and clients for prayers and Iftar meals, the evening meal to break the fast.

Zvažte uspořádání akce Iftar nebo Suhoor

Iftar is the evening meal to break the daily fast is a time for community and togetherness. Hosting an Iftar event for employees or important clients is a wonderful way to foster goodwill and strengthen relationships during Ramadan.

Suhoor, the pre-dawn meal eaten before the daily fast begins, is typically lighter than Iftar and allows Muslims to prepare for the day ahead. But Suhoors work well for events as they are held a little later than Iftars, giving those who have been fasting time to eat and rest before heading out to a social event.

Ensure any food and beverages served during Ramadan events adheres to fasting guidelines. At such social gatherings, alcohol is never served and the atmosphere is very modest, with modest clothing and behaviour.

Collaborate on charitable initiatives

Charity and kindness (zakat) are especially encouraged in Islam during Ramadan.

Partnering with reputable non-profits on donation drives, volunteer programs, or other good deeds to help those in need is a great way to give back to the community. This will not only be greatly appreciated but will also enhance your company’s image.

Respect traditions in public spaces

V rámci základní slušnosti se vyvarujte jídla, pití nebo kouření na veřejnosti v době půstu.

As a basic courtesy, avoid eating, drinking, or smoking publicly during fasting hours.

It is also important to behave and dress modestly, and be patient and supportive if any delays occur due to individuals observing the fast.

Adapt your marketing strategy

Incorporate respectful Ramadan themes and messages into ad campaigns on all platforms.

Consider collaborating with Muslim influencers to authentically engage audiences through culturally-relevant content.

By respecting traditions, the social atmosphere of Ramadan presents unique opportunities to build stronger relationships with your Muslim employees, clients, or colleagues.

Prepare for Eid al-Fitr holidays

The festive holiday marking the end of Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr, sees many workers take paid time off. Ensure continuity of critical operations through prior staffing arrangements.

Confirm travel plans with clients and colleagues in advance to avoid any last-minute issues around this celebratory period.

This year, Eid al-Fitr could potentially lead to a 9-day holiday (including the weekend). Therefore, it is best to handle all urgent matters before the Eid to avoid any disruptions.

Engage through cultural activities

Actively participate in Ramadan programmes at local art and culture venues, family destinations, and hotels.

These immersive experiences not only foster new connections but also help you gain a deeper understanding of the cultural nuances, which will prove beneficial in your business endeavours later on.

Communicate with flexibility in mind

Last-minute changes may disrupt some existing plans like leisure activities as spiritual obligations take priority.

Maintain open communication channels and remain adaptable to minimise potential delays or issues.

Source: Arabian Business