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During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk and so you will find that access to food and drink is more restricted. Most supermarkets, service stations, fast food takeaway and similar outlets in the UAE are open during the day and will sell food and drink – but these must be taken away and eaten in private - do not eat in your car or anywhere in public.
You will still be able to dine in large high end hotels – but the areas will be screened off from view. Most cafes and restaurants elsewhere in the city, such as in Malls or parks will be closed during the day – though with extended hours at night. Some cafes in the larger Malls may provide takeaway food, and there may be few places where screened cafes are open. For example, the coffee shop by arrivals in Terminal 3 at the airport is heavily screened – but was open for drinks and snacks in 2012. A couple of other places where you might find some cafes open are DIFC and Dubai Healthcare City. The cafes and restaurants in DFIC are found behind yellow curtains during the day. These shield them from public view. In general, Food and drink outlets that are open will be discreet and so you may need to look carefully to decide whether a place is open or not. It is not illegal for them to be open during Ramadan, but they will have to have a special licence to operate during daylight hours.
In general it is wisest to assume that unless you are in a major hotel, you will not be able to dine out during the day and even in a major hotel you will not be able to buy alcoholic drinks until after sunset. The only place you can buy alcohol would be airside at Dubai International Airport.
Young children (up to about 11 or 12 years old) can eat and drink in public during the day – as Muslim children do not fast until they reach puberty. However, try and be discrete and find a quite corner for the children to eat in.
As well as not eating, smoking or drinking in public (and your car counts as public and so don’t eat or drink in this either), you should also be more conservative about your dress. Be extra careful with the way in which you dress.
Businesses will also have their hours changed. Malls are opened later, usually until the early hours of the morning, whilst banks and government offices will usually close at 2pm. Check with the department if you have to visit them. You will also find that almost every government related office is closed during Eid Al Fitr national holiday.
Dubai Metro usually operates later during Ramadan (until 1am) – to cope with the later opening of the malls. Taxis operate as normal during Ramadan, although you may find it difficult to find one at sunset. Most of the drivers are Muslim and will be keen to break their fast.
Don’t worry about the airport though; Dubai International Airport operates as normal 24hrs a day after passport control and customs.
More information on Ramadan can be found here.