This week Muslims throughout the world began Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting that requires Muslims to refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and engaging in intimate relations during daylight hours. The religious observances that are required during Ramadan are not limited to Muslims alone, and in many Gulf countries expatriates are being strongly encouraged to take heed of the Ramadan customs in order to avoid potential problems with the police.
Understand the rules and follow them
Legal authorities throughout Muslim countries will be on the lookout for any inappropriate behavior demonstrated by non-Muslims during Ramadan and any expatriates who show disrespect for the customs and traditions will find themselves on the wrong side of the law. In Dubai, for example, police have been instructed to initially issue a warning to offenders before awarding fines of to $550 USD for any infractions. Talking to Arabian Business, Dubai’s chief of police said: “We train our officers how to deal with different nationalities and to respect non-Muslims who may inadvertently offend Muslims during Ramadan by eating, drinking or smoking in public places during the day…. They are to deal with it in a courteous way so that [non-Muslims] would refrain from doing it again.”
If you’re looking for information about Ramadan and the rules that govern this special time of year, then you should consult our free expat guide to the holy month of Ramadan. It contains comprehensive details of the changes that expatriates will face during the Islamic month of fasting.
Expatriates living in predominantly Muslim countries will also find Ramadan etiquette guides in their local newspapers.