Ramadan 2021 in UAE: how the holy month will be different this year

Muslims will begin to celebrate their second holy month of the pandemic within the next few weeks

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Muslims will celebrate the second Ramadan of the coronavirus pandemic in only a few weeks’ time.

The holy month this year will be different to the last, although both fall under the cloud of Covid-19.

In 2020, Ramadan began early in the pandemic, when strict rules were in place to protect the public.

Gatherings were not allowed, compelling people to pray at home instead of with others at mosques, which were closed to restrict the spread of the virus.

Muslims instead relied on technology to maintain a sense of togetherness.

With mosques open, celebrations will be different this year, but precautions remain.

So what will Ramadan be like this year?

The National explains.

Ramadan 2021 in UAE: Covid-19 rules and regulations

Ramadan 2021 in UAE: Covid-19 rules and regulations

When is Ramadan expected to begin?

Most probably on April 12, but the date depends on the sighting of the Moon because the Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle.

The start of the month is announced once a country’s Moon-sighting committee spots the new crescent.

Ramadan is the ninth month and will last either 29 or 30 days, until the next new moon is seen.

Will mosques be open?


Last year, mosques were closed during Ramadan, and Friday prayers resumed in November, long after places of worship reopened.

This year, they will remain open during the holy month, but must be sanitised before and after prayers.

Taraweeh prayers, which are held after isha and counted among Muslims' key optional prayers (sunnah) during Ramadan, will be conducted under the safety measures already announced, including capacity limits and mandatory masks.

Worshippers must also take their own prayer mats and copies of the Quran, and follow social-distancing protocols.

To prevent the spread of coronavirus, large gatherings are not permitted, so there will be no iftar tents or banquets outside mosques, or anywhere else.

Copies of the Quran should not be distributed. It should be read digitally instead.

Ali Ibn Abi Talib Mosque on Ali Bin Abi Taleb Street in Bur Dubai.
Photo: Reem Mohammed / The National
Reporter: Kelly
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 1 MARCH 2021. Ali Ibn Abi Talib Mosque on Ali Bin Abi Taleb Street in Bur Dubai. Photo: Reem Mohammed / The National Reporter: Kelly

Can different families celebrate iftar together, as they did before the pandemic?

No, they should not.

On Tuesday, authorities said people should share iftar and suhoor only with others in their own household, rather than gather with extended relatives or groups of friends.

Wider family meet-ups should not be held, and food must not be exchanged between households.

Majlis should also be avoided, and all big gatherings related to Ramadan will be banned.

In previous years, mosques and wealthy families in the UAE erected tents or set up outdoor areas to distribute free iftar meals.

That will not happen this year.

Meals can be distributed only in labour accommodation.

Those who are interested in donating iftar dishes to workers should contact the manager of the housing and a restaurant to arrange the distribution of packed meals.

Restaurants cannot distribute food in or outside the premises.

Intensive inspection campaigns will be conducted during Ramadan and authorities said action will be taken against offenders.

Many low-income workers rely on mosques and these personal tents for meals. Last year, charities delivered food to the homes of people in need instead.

With supermarkets open full time, families will be able to stock up on supplies before Ramadan as usual.

Tents serving iftar and suhoor were a common feature of Ramadan until last year, when they were not permitted to open.

Dubai's Islamic authority cancelled all permits for Ramadan tents in the emirate this year to prevent gatherings.

On Tuesday, federal authorities confirmed communal tents were also banned elsewhere.

In the last 10 days of Ramadan, the situation will be reassessed and restrictions may be eased.

Elderly people and those with chronic diseases that place them at greater risk should continue to avoid public places.

Masks must be worn outside the home at all times.

Abu Dhabi, U.A.E., June 18, 2018.  Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque after Ramadan.  Workers disassemble the iftar tents at the North Parking Lot area of the Grand Mosque.
Victor Besa / The National
Requested by:   Olive Obina
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque after Ramadan in 2018. There will be no iftar tents this year under precautions to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Victor Besa / The National 

What about supermarkets, malls and restaurants?

They will remain open during the day.

Restaurants will also remain open throughout the day during Ramadan, for dine-in guests as well as food deliveries.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, May 18, 2020.    
A Moreish Sweets saleslady with some Ramadan sweets at the Al Raha Mall reopening during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Victor Besa / The National
Section:  NA
A Moreish Sweets saleswoman holds a crescent-shaped Ramadan treat at Al Raha Mall, Abu Dhabi, on May 18, 2020. Victor Besa / The National

Will the rules differ depending on the emirate?

Quite possibly.

Crisis authorities in Sharjah, Dubai and Ajman had cancelled Ramadan tents before the federal restrictions were announced on Tuesday.

Sharjah said the distribution of iftar meals was also banned, and can be undertaken only by registered charities. It said inspections will be carried out to ensure compliance.

In Ajman, meals will also be distributed only by charities, this process will be overseen by Ajman Charitable Activities and Endowments Co-ordination Council.

Dubai’s Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department announced the cancellation of Ramadan tents this month to prevent large gatherings.

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