Malls cater with late hours for Ramadan

Customers turn up throughout the day to take advantage of sales, prepare for the evening meal and make charitable donations

ABU DHABI // The normally bustling cafes and restaurants in Abu Dhabi's shopping malls are quiet during the day for Ramadan, but people are flocking to them late into the night. This year most malls are on new schedules for the Muslim holy month, with many shops closed for several hours in the afternoon but reopening until 2am - well past the normal closing time of 10pm.

The facade at the entrance of Marina Mall has been lavishly decorated with intricate designs for Ramadan, and inside, people step off an escalator through a decorated archway. Stores in Marina Mall are required to be open from 10am to 2pm and 8pm to 1am Saturday through Wednesday. On Thursday, the shops remain open until 2am. On Friday, shopping hours are 8pm to 2am, although stores can get permission to open earlier.

Shops in Abu Dhabi Mall are open from 10am to 1.30pm, 8pm to 1am Saturday through Thursday and 8pm to 1am on Friday. Al Wahda Mall is open 10am to 2pm and 7pm to 1am during Ramadan. With shoppers still turning out despite the afternoon closings, some stores remain open all day. Bateel, the luxury brand of Saudi dates, is among the stores open from 10am to 1am in Abu Dhabi Mall, because of the surge in demand for its products. "We are busy during Ramadan as so many people are getting their dates from us for iftar," said Rena Dominguez, a store employee.

In Abu Dhabi Mall, people browsed and took respite from the heat. Families strolled through the cavernous halls, where large gold and silver decorations in the form of camels, coffee pots, lamps and stars hung from the ceiling. Among the many shoppers was Shamma al Khamari, 25, a teacher from Abu Dhabi who said she was already preparing for Eid al Fitr. "Shopping is a need and we normally do it on the weekends," she said. "In the evenings during Ramadan we have to be with our families, so we come during the day."

Published: September 9, 2008 04:00 AM