New Zealand Embassy Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
If you are visiting or live in an Islamic country during Ramadan, you should avoid eating, drinking or smoking in public, between dawn and dusk. Non-Muslims aren’t under the same obligation to fast but your awareness will be appreciated. As this is a holy month for Muslims, you should also be particularly mindful of behaviour or dress that may cause offence.
In some countries it is illegal to eat and drink in daylight during Ramadan, and penalties may apply. Business hours – including restaurants – may be also be subject to change, and there may be additional pressure on public transport and roads at certain times of day.
Remember the following pointers:
- Be aware that office hours will change and that late morning or in the evening after 8pm are the best times for business and shopping.
- Avoid driving close to sunset, as people are anxious to get home for breaking the fast. Driving can be hazardous.
- Eat, smoke, chew gum or drink anywhere in public (including your car) between sunrise and sunset.
- Dance or sing in public at any time, even after sunset when cafe and restaurants are open.
- Play loud music that might disturb your neighbours.Wear tight or revealing clothes, or display physical affection (hugging, kissing) in public.
Ramadan, for Muslims is a month of fasting, spiritualism, meditation and abstinence from food, drinks, smoking and continence in all respects between dawn and dusk. It also calls for more prayers and meditation coupled with increased tolerance towards one's fellow beings. Only the sick, the infirm, women in their menstruation periods, nursing mothers and travellers are exempt from fasting, but they are expected to make up the lost days at another time. Ramadan is also a month of charity and compassion. Alms are given to the poor. Special foods and sweetmeats are prepared for breaking of the fast each evening throughout the month.