Abu Dhabi restaurants to remove partitions during Ramadan fasting hours

Diners now able to eat and drink in public view under a new directive

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Restaurants and cafes across Abu Dhabi have been asked to remove partitions and open their curtains during Ramadan fasting hours.

Previously, all eateries were required to be kept out of public view - by covering windows or placing screens in front of premises - prior to iftar during the holy month.

Outlets at Abu Dhabi Mall and Yas Mall were among those complying with the new ruling as of Tuesday.

A circular issued to customers by Abu Dhabi Mall on Tuesday said the authorities asked that all screens be removed.

"As such, we are now in a situation where food and beverages are openly being served in public," the mall's own circular states.

"This is supposed to apply to all malls."

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - Abu Dhabi mall is now allowed to keep restaurants open throughout the day with no curtains or screens during Ramadan as per municipality instructions. Khushnum Bhandari for The National
Restaurants and cafes have been directed to remove screenings previously in place during fasting hours. Khushnum Bhandari for The National

A customer service employee at Abu Dhabi Mall told The National that a municipality official visited on Tuesday to deliver the news.

The circular advised employees who may be questioned about the decision by customers to say: "We have been instructed to do so by the authorities for all our restaurants/coffee shops. This is for the entire city."

Dubai and Abu Dhabi have relaxed what were once fairly strict rules about eating and drinking during Ramadan.

Restaurants and bars typically remain open during daytime throughout the holy month, though mostly in hotels.

The federal law prohibiting eating and drinking in public during Ramadan carries a Dh2,000 fine, though it is rarely enforced.

But residents and visitors are urged to avoid eating and drinking in the streets and open areas out of respect for those fasting.

Residents were unconcerned by the new rules, which came in as the holy month draws to a close.

Rami Al Hashemi, 27, from Syria, said he preferred diners not to be in full view.

"I am okay with food being available for people who are not fasting, but having been born here, it was always hidden, and that made me very comfortable," he said.

"I prefer there to be a curtain or partition."

Mohammed Al Daqqaq, a 34-year-old from Jordan, suggested most Muslims who are fasting are used to people eating around them.

“And I am certain that a fasting person would not drool if he or she sees other people eating," he said.

“Nonetheless, making the activity slightly subtle would be appreciated; they could allow the restaurants to operate freely and without a curtain but to keep the tables inside the restaurant - no need to place them in the middle of the mall.

"It doesn’t affect me or offend me as a fasting person to go to the mall in Ramadan and see people eating."