Are you looking for the ultimate Qatar Ramadan guide? Well look no further. In this guide we will tell you everything you need to know about visiting Doha during Ramadan, what to do in Doha during Ramadan and of course most importantly the Ramadan Rules in Qatar.
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But before we go into Qatar specifics it is good to know exactly what Ramadan is and how it might affect your trip to Qatar.
What is Ramadan?
If you have never lived in the Middle East before, you may have a limited knowledge of what Ramadan is, apart from the obvious fasting element. So here is a quick overview.
Ramadan is known as the Holy Month in Islam 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.
When is Ramadan in Qatar 2023?
Currently Ramadan is a springtime event. This is easier than when Ramadan is in the summer months when the longer days and the stronger heat that you experience during summers in Qatar adds to the difficulty.
In 2023 Ramadan in Qatar is expected to:
- begin on Wednesday 22nd March 2023 and
- end on Thursday April 20th 2023.
However it is important to note that Ramadan does not fall on a precise day every year. Firstly it moves but also the day Ramadan starts is depending on the moon being spotted which means that the start or end date can move by a day or two.
Ramadan in Qatar will only begin when a new moon is sighted by a Muslim and reported to the Ministry for Islamic Affairs.
Do the Ramadan Rules in Qatar apply to non Muslims?
Before we start delving into what the Ramadan rules are in Qatar it is important to address one of our more frequently asked questions which is “Do the Ramadan Rules in Qatar apply to non Muslims?”
And the answer is they absolutely do. The Qatar Ramadan rules apply to Nationals, Expats and Tourists alike whether they are practising Islam or not.
What are the Ramadan Rules in Qatar
Eating during Ramadan in Qatar?
Although tourists and expats who do not practise Islam are not expected to fast they are still expected to respect the fact that they are in a Muslim country during the Holy Month.
This translates to there being no eating, drinking or smoking in public during daylight hours. Please note: this goes for gum as well as more solid foods.
In your own home or when you are in a hotel however you are free to eat and drink as you wish but you can not do so in public spaces. However please be mindful of overlooked spaces such as gardens and balconies in hotels so you don’t offend.
As it is not allowed for food and drink to be consumed in public spaces you can expect that all mall food courts and coffee shops are shop until after the sun has gone down.
However please note that some malls may 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.
However if you are wanting to eat in a restaurant during the day in Doha during Ramadan then keep reading:
Are restaurants open in Doha During Ramadan?
The truth is that during the day in Ramadan lost of restaurants are closed. However there are some restaurants open during Ramadan in Doha.
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 (only non-alcoholic beverages during the Holy Month).
Many of these hotels still operate their business lunches which can be a nice excuse to try these out given the shortened working day (during Ramadan in 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
Can you get alcohol during Ramadan in Qatar?
During Ramadan in Qatar, no alcohol is served anywhere in the country, even the 5* hotels which are permitted to serve alcohol the rest of the year. For all purposes Qatar becomes a dry country during the month of Ramadan (although you can drink in your own home).
Next Read: If you are visiting Qatar outside of Ramadan too then be sure to read our drinking in Doha post which will give you our favorite places to enjoy a drink and the all important rules.
Residents with an alcohol license in Qatar should be aware that the QDC – Qatar Distribution Centre – is closed for the duration of Ramadan in Qatar. Please check the Qatar Distribution Centre Website to find out the last opening day before Ramadan
Top Tip: I find that the QDC gets busier and busier in the lead up to Ramadan, I recommend going at least two weeks before the start of Ramadan to stock up!
Exceptions to the rules during Ramadan in Qatar
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.
How Does Ramadan in Doha Affect Tourists?
Ramadan in Doha obviously has an effect on tourist.
Firstly you will not be able to enjoy the amazing food and beverage scene in Qatar quite as freely as usually and you will find that many of the other best things to do in Doha are closed until after sun down. It is therefore important that tourists change their itinerary to weight it more to the evening.
Also there is always a strict Doha dress code but it is even more important that you respect and adhere to this during Ramadan.
However, on the flip side, if you are experiencing Doha during its religious seasons and can take part in the cultural events such as Garangao and partake in Suhoor or Iftar. While I wouldn’t recommend planning a week’s holiday during Ramadan you will probably be fine on a short stopover!
Transiting through Hamad International Airport, Doha during Ramadan in Qatar
Landside operates the same rules to the rest of Qatar regarding the shutting of restaurants and no public eating or drinking requirements.
However once you are airside you can expect that the eateries will be open and the rules be more relaxed. However there may be limitations on alcohol being served. Check out this post on does Qatar Airways serve alcohol for more information.
What to do in Qatar during Ramadan.
One of the most common questions have about Ramadan in Qatar is what are things to do in Qatar during Ramadan. Now during the day most things are closed during the day during Ramadan however at night, there are lots of special events going on.
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 and are usually served buffet style.
Other food outlets will also often run Iftar offers and takeaways will be available.
However I would ask people to please be considerate to others when ordering takeout or having an Iftar etc during Ramadan. There are many people who may have been fasting all day when dining out at Iftar as they will have not have had chance to have good or water for many hours, even in their own homes.
It is also worth saying that 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.
Shopping During Ramadan in Doha 2023
Check shop opening times, this may change dramatically during Ramadan Doha .
Supermarkets are usually open for extended hours and are open even during daylight.
Events in Doha during Ramadan 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.
Thing to consider when visiting Qatar during Ramadan
What to Wear During Ramadan in Qatar
The basic Ramadan clothing rule is 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 mall.
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.
For more information on what to wear in Doha please check out this post!
Qatar Working Hours In Ramadan 2023
Make sure you have checked with your workplace regarding Ramadan Doha Hours. In Qatar governmental companies will only work for 5 hours a day and private companies 6 by law.
What are your favorite things to do in Doha during Ramadan?
As always we love hearing from you! Why don’t you leave us a comment and let us know what your favorite things to do in Doha during Ramadan are!
Note about Author: I have lived through Ramadan in Qatar for four years and the below information is compiled by actual in country experience.
Further Reading on Qatar:
What to do with Kids in Qatar
Qatar’s Most Beautiful Places
Hidden Gems in Qatar Public Beaches in Qatar