Ramadan Qatar – Your Essential Guide

Ramadan Qatar – Your Essential Guide

When I talk to people about living in Qatar, one of the first topics of conversation is about what life is like during Ramadan Qatar. As I am asked this question so often I thought it would be useful to put together the essential guide for anyone, visitor or expat about life during Ramadan in Qatar!

What is Ramadan?

If you have never lived in the Middle East before, you may have a limited knowledge of what Ramdan is, apart from the obvious fasting element. So here is a quick overview.

Ramadan is known as the Holy Month and fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam. Between sunrise and sunset, muslims can not eat or drink anything. Through fasting, a person’s faith is strengthened and soul cleansed!

Ramadan, however, is about more than abstinance in food but also in music, tobacco and sex. As with any time of year in the Middle East, PDAs are a no-no but more so during the Holy Month.

Currently Ramadan is a summer event, which makes it especially difficult given the long days and the heat. Ramadan moves around 10 days earlier every year. This year – 2017 – Ramadan is expected to start on or around 26th May. This isn’t a precise date as with many things in the Islamic calendar, it is dependent on the moon. The lunar calendar is very important to Islam. Ramadan in Qatar will only begin when a new moon is sighted by a Muslim and reported to the Ministry for Islamic Affairs.

Not all Muslims are required to fast during the Holy Month with exceptions being the pregnant, young, and ill.

Requirements for non-Muslims in Ramadan Qatar 

Although not expected to fast, expats and tourists must respect the holy month. As such there is no eating, drinking or smoking in public during daylight hours. This goes for gum as well! In your own home however you are free to eat and drink as you wish! However please be mindful of overlooked spaces such as gardens and balconies.

All mall food courts and coffee shops are shut until after sundown. Some malls will have a coffee shop operating a takeaway service but it is important any purchased goods are not consumed in public. Please remember that your car is not considered a private space and as such eating and drinking shouldn’t be done there.

If you are looking for food or drink outside of the home during the day, your only option is a hotel. Many of the 5* hotels will have blacked out areas where non-Muslim guests and visitors can dine and drink. Many still operate their business lunches which can be a nice excuse to try these out given the shortened working day (during Ramadan Qatar Government workers are required to work a maximum of 5 hours per day and private sector workers 6 hours a day).

My husband always swears by Quickbites in City Centre as the only coffee shop open in West Bay during Ramadan. You can read more about our restaurant guide here

Doha News previously provided a guide to a list of hotels that were opened during the day. If this is released this year I will let you know otherwise please ring the hotels to find out information.

During Ramadan Qatar, no alcohol is served anywhere in the country, even the 5* hotels which are permitted to serve alcohol the rest of the year! Also, residents with an alcohol license should be aware that the QDC – Qatar Distribution Centre – is closed for the entire Holy Month!

There are exceptions to the outdoor eating rules for non-Muslims. Pregnant and breastfeeding women wouldn’t be expected to fast but it is better to be discrete if you require water or food during the day. The same rules can be said for children. For small children there shouldn’t be any issues with feeding or drinking in public.

As Ramadan, now falls during term time I am not sure what the requirements would be regarding non-Muslim children at lunch time. If you can provide any illumination that would be greatly received.

Hamad International Airport, Doha 

Landside operates the same rules to the rest of Qatar regarding the shutting of restaurants and no public eating or drinking requirements. Once you are airside however you can expect that the eateries will be open. However there may be limitations on alcohol being served.

Doha Ramadan Tents

One of my favourite things about Ramadan Qatar is the many Ramadan tents which are open at Iftar and Suhoor.

Iftar is the meal taken directly after sundown and is known as the breaking of the fast. An iftar meal usually starts with water and dates. I’m not sure why but in Qatar dates must be eaten in odd numbers, so three are usually served. After this initial eating, prayers are usually conducted followed by a larger meal. The Ramadan tents usually operate at the 5* hotels and are extravagant affairs! Usually served buffet style. I will be updating this section with Ramadan Tent Reviews as we attend them during the Holy Month. We recently visited attended the Ramadan Tent at the Grand Hyatt for Suhoor. You can read all about it here.

Other food outlets, will often run Iftar offers. But be considerate to others who may have been fasting all day when dining out at Iftar. Also in the final hour or so before fasting breaks, the driving on the roads can be pretty erratic. We usually delay or go early if we are heading out to avoid this!

Some hotels offer the same meal at Suhoor, which is the last meal before fasting beginnings again. Please remember that costs differ from iftar and suhoor, the latter being more expensive. Also give the timings iftar might be a more family friendly option.

Thing to consider

Be more mindful about clothing to show your respect. For the past few years, there has been a campaign in Qatar known as Reflect Your Respect! This campaign teaches visitors about proper dress during the Holy Month and can often be seen talking to people in malls. I have written a small post about how my wardrobe has changed since moving to the Middle East. For ideas and inspiration please check out the post here! But in summary shoulders and knees should be covered at all times. No cleavage and while tight clothes aren’t specifically banned, you should show respect for your host country.

Make sure you have checked with your workplace regarding Ramadan Hours. In Qatar governmental companies will only work for 5 hours a day and private companies 6 by law.

Check shop opening times, this may change dramatically during Ramadan.

Supermarkets are usually open for extended hours and are open even during daylight!

Events in Qatar for the Family

While most things are closed during the day, in the evening (if your little one can stay up) there are many events on offer.

Every night at sundown a canon is fired to signal the end of fast. You can go along and watch this

Anyone who has been to Doha before will know that the Qataris love their cars! After fasting, many Qataris will drive their rare or most prozed cars along the corniche as a parade. Many visitors and expats alike go along to watch the spectacle.

The most important date in the diary for any visitor or expat with a family is Garangoa. Garangao is usually held on the 14th night of Ramadan and I have heard it described as The Middle East halloween. Garangoa is a traditional children’s party held once the fast has been broken. On Garangao children get dressed up (more traditional dress than costume), carry a bag around their neck singing songs and knocking on doors. Traditionally children are given  nuts but now more likely receive candy.

Many of the cultural authorities and centres and even malls will have Garangoa celebrations. Qatar Foundation usually hosts a large one on education city. It is a great way for children to experience and learn about Ramadan.

Ramadan ends with the Eid celebration! NB there are in fact two Eid holidays, the first Eid is Eid al-fitr. Eid al fitr is a public holiday – three days for private companies but up to a week for governmental workers. Most expats choose to leave for the holiday. Why not come back later this week to check out our Eid Escapes post!

What do you during Ramadan?

Travelling elsewhere in the Middle East during Ramdan? Why not check out Our Globetrotters Guide to Ramadan in the UAE!

Ramadan Qatar

 

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 Linked to #culturedkids

50 Comments

  1. May 22, 2017 / 9:43 pm

    Wow it is so strict and such an eye opener. Of course rules must be observed and opinions respected. I think the restrictions would make me consider the time I am visiting to ensure we get the best out of our trip. Thanks so much for linking up #MondayEscapes
    Sarah Christie recently posted…Monday Escapes 22/05/17My Profile

    • May 23, 2017 / 8:35 am

      Yes indeed – Dubai has a lot less restrictions at this time of year

  2. May 23, 2017 / 12:53 am

    Wow, this is fascinating! Here we’re slowly getting rid of all the old religious-based rules, so you can finally buy alcohol on a Sunday! 😉

  3. May 23, 2017 / 6:04 am

    the food halls are open from 12pm in the larger malls in Dubai and screened off from the public areas.

    Popping over from #MondayEscapes
    chickenruby recently posted…Animals on my UK travelsMy Profile

    • May 23, 2017 / 8:36 am

      Yes I had heard Dubai is a lot less restrictive so we are heading there for a long weekend in he middle of Ramadan

  4. May 25, 2017 / 11:30 am

    I love learning about other cultures. Haven’t visited anywhere during Ramadan, but if I ever should… All really useful interesting info, thank you! 🙂 #farawayfiles

  5. May 25, 2017 / 1:45 pm

    What a fascinating insight into living in the middle East and Ramadan. Really interesting read #mondayescapes
    Andrea @ Topsy Turvy Tribe recently posted…Las AlpujarrasMy Profile

  6. May 25, 2017 / 6:24 pm

    This is so interesting. I hadn’t appreciated how much Ramadan affects non-Muslims living in the area. Thanks for sharing this on #FarawayFiles
    Clare (Suitcases and Sandcastles) recently posted…Faraway Files #30My Profile

  7. May 26, 2017 / 12:13 am

    Thanks for all of your great information about Ramadan Qatar and what we should respect and recognize as visitors. Your list of activities as well as explanations behind this practice was greatly appreciated and good to be aware of. I am glad you are so thorough so I am aware in case I visit the Middle East during this time or meet others who observe Ramadan Qatar. #FarawayFiles
    Brooke of Passport Couture recently posted…Cruelty-Free Beauty ProductsMy Profile

  8. May 29, 2017 / 7:12 pm

    What an interesting read. I feel I had a quite a good knowledge however this certainly enlightened me. Simple things like eating in your car etc, I wouldn’t have thought of that. Must be strange not being able to eat out in the day, or just grab a coffee but I expect you get used it. #farawayfiles
    tammymum recently posted…#FamilyFun…Week 36My Profile

    • May 29, 2017 / 7:39 pm

      The hardest thing is the lack of soft plays – only one open so keeping the toddler amused in this heat is challenging to say the least

  9. May 30, 2017 / 8:36 am

    Gosh what a fascinating insight, this isn’t something I’d thought about before. It must be especially difficult not to drink water out and about on a hot day.

  10. May 30, 2017 / 9:04 am

    We have a holiday house in Dahab, Egypt, and have often been there during Ramadan. But it’s nowhere near as strict as in Qatar! I always feel it’s important to show respect for the country you’re visiting. So thanks for these very useful tips for visiting Qatar during Ramadam!
    Lisa – FlipFlopGlobetrotters.com recently posted…Iceland with kids – 9 fantastic things to doMy Profile

  11. May 30, 2017 / 9:47 am

    Wow.. that’s a really comprehensive, informative post. Thanks for the info. Happy to be linking … 🙂 #citytripping

    • June 1, 2017 / 6:23 pm

      I completely agree! The car Is a surprise to lots of people

  12. May 30, 2017 / 1:51 pm

    What an interesting post! I’d love to see the Garangoa celebrations, as well as the actual Eid celebrations. #citytripping

  13. May 30, 2017 / 2:49 pm

    Wow! What an interesting read! I love learning about other cultures, and this was a great crash course for a topic that I knew very little about. #CityTripping

  14. May 30, 2017 / 3:28 pm

    Really interesting to learn a bit more about Ramadam. We’ve been in Dubai when it has been on before so was aware of not eating in public and eating in closed off sections in the hotel but lots I didn’t know. I’m glad there are restrictions on working hours. I can’t imagine surviving the heat of the Middle East without any water. #citytripping
    Elizabeth (Wander Mum) recently posted…Hong Kong Itinerary: Three Days With Kids My Profile

  15. May 30, 2017 / 4:29 pm

    I didn’t realise that Ramadan extended to music as well. I feel sorry for the Muslims working in hotels who have to be around food all day. That’d be a real test of strength.
    And it makes sense that eating in public is considered a big no-no, although to be honest, I wouldn’t have thought of it myself. Thanks so much for all of the information, this was a really interesting post. #citytripping
    Kat recently posted…15 Instagram-worthy views in San FranciscoMy Profile

  16. May 30, 2017 / 11:03 pm

    Really informative post. I’m sure it is a common question, but thank you for providing answers. I look forward to reading about the Iftar tents. The more we know, the more we connect and I appreciate your sharing the tradition with #FarawayFiles.
    Erin Gustafson recently posted…How to Invite Danes to a PartyMy Profile

  17. May 31, 2017 / 8:19 am

    Very interesting post and useful tips for non-Muslims! I remember Ramadan growing up in Saudi, I think all restaurants and groceries would be closed during the day there and it was very important to avoid eating and drinking in public out of respect. The flashy cars racing along the Corniche sounds just like Jeddah! Thanks for sharing and for hosting #CityTripping
    Cindy recently posted…Our Family Holiday in Orlando, FloridaMy Profile

  18. May 31, 2017 / 1:43 pm

    This was fascinating. I have traveled to a few Muslim countries, but never during Ramadan – I will keep this in mind for the future.
    Kit Graham recently posted…Homemade Tagalong CookiesMy Profile

  19. May 31, 2017 / 2:36 pm

    A lot of western visitors probably don’t realize the extent to which public life and dining is affected by Ramadan, so this is a helpful guide.

  20. May 31, 2017 / 11:57 pm

    Wow! This is fascinating! I love learning about other cultures. That said, I’m not sure I would enjoy fasting all day every day for a month, though I often go long periods without a meal, the idea that I couldn’t would make me want to dine even more! #citytripping
    Hilary recently posted…Venice Art Walls: Caution Wet PaintMy Profile

  21. June 3, 2017 / 7:57 pm

    I’ve travelled via Qatar twice during Ramadan. We were reminded of Ramadan when landing. Outbound I can’t remember noticing open or closed eateries. Going back I remember there were cafes open. Not wanting to be too disrespectful, but still very hungry, I sneaked in a snack/crackers in a corner of the airport 🙂
    beatravelling recently posted…Cantina CortinaMy Profile

  22. June 5, 2017 / 2:34 pm

    What an interesting post. It’s good to read about what’s expected of tourists during Ramadan. And the customs – I had no idea about dates being served in threes! Thanks for linking up with #CulturedKids
    Nell (Pigeon Pair and Me) recently posted…#CulturedKids June 2017My Profile

  23. June 8, 2017 / 12:01 pm

    This is so insightful. I have a couple of friends who are Muslims and currently fasting and have been talking to me a lot about it…. a completely different experience for them here in the UK than somewhere as strict as Qatar. #citytripping

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