The holy month of Ramadan is an Islamic holiday of fasting and reflection observed during the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, Lonely Planet explained. As Muslims honor the holy month in places like Tunisia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco, travelers have the opportunity to experience one of the five pillars of Islam showcased in a very visible way. During the daylight hours, fasting takes place to focus on spiritual reflection but at night, the streets come alive.
The dates of Ramadan are based on the Islamic Calendar and change every year, Time Out Dubai explained. Though the dates are anticipated ahead of time, the exact start and end dates are only announced the day before. This year, the holy month is anticipated to begin on the evening of May 15 and end on the evening of June 14.
If traveling to any such destinations, there are several things to keep in mind:
The Chicago Tribune explained that during the holy month of Ramadan, non-Muslim visitors traveling to Islamic countries are expected to observe the dawn to dusk fasting that Muslims take part in when out in public. All cafes, eateries and coffee shops remain closed during these hours. While most international hotels do keep one dining area open for foreigners to find a meal during the daytime hours, do note that these restaurants will often be concealed with dark curtains or kept out of sight as a sign of respect. Eating during the fast can offend those who are observing the practice.
Laws and customs
Customs on public observance of the fast will be more strict in some regions than others, Lonely Planet explained. As such, it's important to familiarize yourself with the local laws of the country you are traveling to. Though Ramadan tradition does not require non-Muslims to fast, there are scenarios where you could receive a fine for breaking the fast in public. Similarly, it's a good idea to follow a more conservative dress code in Islamic countries during the holy month.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that the locals you will likely be engaging with will have not had anything to eat or drink in several hours, Culture Trip explained. Daily life will also move much slower than usual during the holy month, simply because locals are lacking energy. As such, it's important to be patient and respectful of Muslims observing the fast.
Expect that you will not be rushing anywhere and offer kind gestures to locals around you, as charity is another one of the five Islamic pillars celebrated during Ramadan, Lonely Planet noted.
When planning your travel, be sure to observe the final two days of Ramadan, called Eid al-Fitr. This holiday is an extremely important religious event, Culture Trip explained. This two-day celebration means that all business, services and attractions will be closed. If you are arriving or departing at this time, access to hotels and transportation may be difficult.
Afar.com reported that traveling to a Muslim region during Ramadan is not just exciting and culturally rewarding, but it's a privilege for any non-Muslim to experience. Take part in observing the holy month and share in the nightly celebration of breaking fast. This is the best time to really get to know the food, religion, people and culture.
By planning accordingly, you can make the most out of your business travel during Ramadan.
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