Ramadan 2022 in Egypt: dates, working hours, mall opening times and all you need to know

What will be different this year?

Egyptians have begun to descend on markets throughout the country to stock up for Ramadan, which is expected to start on Saturday.

Social distancing and isolation are not common during the holy month, when many people visit loved ones and attend large gatherings each night to engage in iftar, the ritual breaking of the fast.

With the country just ending its fifth wave of Covid-19, the government announced last week that most of the previous health and safety regulations to contain the pandemic will be eased this Ramadan.

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is a fasting month and a time when Muslims strengthen their faith through prayer and increased recitation of the Quran. Muslims believe that during this month the holy Quran was revealed to Prophet Mohammed. It is also the ninth and holiest month in the Islamic – or Hijri – calendar.

Fasting from sunrise to sunset throughout the holy month is an obligation for every able Muslim who has reached the age of maturity.

When does Ramadan begin?

Ramadan will most probably start on Saturday, April 2, according to an announcement from Egypt's Dar al-Iftaa. However, the final date will be officially announced by the Moon-sighting committee – a group of astronomers, court officials and advisers from the country's Islamic authority – which typically convenes after maghrib, or sunset, prayers on the 29th day of Sha’ban (which this year is Friday, April 1) to look for the new crescent moon from Mokattam Hill in Cairo.

What are the Covid-19 rules in Egypt during Ramadan?

In anticipation of an expected drop in daily new coronavirus infections in the coming period and the fact that more than 50 per cent of the population have been fully vaccinated, the country’s pandemic management committee announced this week that many of its restrictions to curb the spread of the virus would be eased in time for the holy month.

Many of the holy month's beloved traditions that were not allowed to take place for the past two years will resume this year, including the night-time taraweeh prayers, the large charity banquets for the less fortunate and the return of sohour outings.

Are mosques open during Ramadan in Egypt?

Ramadan’s congregational night-time prayers, known as taraweeh, are expected to be allowed to take place at major Egyptian mosques this year, after not being held for the past two years.

Taraweeh is one of the most quintessential rituals of the holy month each year and the prayers were sorely missed.

Although the prayers were cancelled at public mosques for the past two years, worshippers hosted them in their homes and in other private spaces in most Egyptian cities.

Mass celebrations at all mosques have been reinstated this year after two years of being halted because of the pandemic.

Furthermore, weddings at indoor halls, which had also been banned for the past two years, will be allowed to take place, starting from April 1.

The country's awqaf (religious endowments) ministry issued a statement this year announcing that Muslims will not be allowed to go into “spiritual seclusion” or itikaf at mosques during the final 10 days of the month, considered the holiest time of Ramadan. This continues the itikaf ban of the past two years.

Though the trend indicates that the government is removing most of the restrictions put in place to contain the pandemic, they have assured the public that health & safety precautions like social distancing and mask-wearing will be enforced in most of the newly reopened spaces.

Are group iftars and Ramadan tents allowed in Egypt during Ramadan?

The committee announced the return of the holy month’s famed charity iftars, Mawa'ed Al Rahman, which are held by affluent citizens to feed the less fortunate during the holy month.

The government, however, has instructed anyone setting up a group charity iftar to enforce preventive measures such as mask-wearing and social distancing.

This year will also mark the return of religious classes for Muslim youth usually held at mosques nationwide after the al ‘asr prayer.

Are charity drives in Egypt operational this year?

The government is currently hosting its seventh annual Ramadan supplies fair, which provides traditional Ramadan foods at reduced cost, to make sure as many people as possible can celebrate the holy month.

These state-run charity drives were made more essential this year in light of rising food prices brought on by the Russia-Ukraine war.

The nation’s most prominent charities have begun distributing Ramadan packages to the poor free of charge.

Will malls and restaurants be open for Ramadan?

The government in 2020 announced two sets of operating hours for all businesses after a four-month lockdown to combat the pandemic (one for winter and one for summer), but this system will cease to be in effect this April, according to the committee statement.

Malls and retail stores will be allowed to run at full capacity this year, with the government increasing their operating hours.

For the past two years, the government encouraged fasters to have sohour – the last meal fasters consume before they start the daytime fast – at home. Restaurants and cafes were told to close early in an attempt to reduce crowding for sohour, which typically falls just before dawn.

Although closing times for restaurants and cafes had been set for midnight on weekdays and 1am for the weekend last Ramadan to reduce crowding during the holy month, this year closing times have been extended to 2am.

Similarly, malls, which were mandated to close at 11pm last year, will now be allowed to remain open until 2am.

What are the working hours in Egypt during Ramadan?

In accordance with the country's labour laws, public sector employees' work days are shorter by about three hours during Ramadan. They are allowed to arrive for work an hour later than usual – at 9am – and to leave work at 2pm instead of 4pm.

However, no such laws exist for private sector businesses, which determine their Ramadan working hours as they see fit. Many workers in the Egyptian private sector work full eight-hour days during the holy month.

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