The impact of Ramadan on business in the UAE: our experience and advice

Ramadan is a holy month for the Muslim world, a time of deep spirituality, self-exploration and renewal of faith, during which strict fasting is observed from dawn to dusk. In the UAE, where Muslims comprise a significant portion of the population, Ramadan greatly impacts business and the economy. For many companies, this is a period of change in the rhythm of work, customer relationships and marketing strategies. Our Antwort Law office in Dubai is also certainly feeling the impact of this period on our work, and we are happy to share how.

During fasting, many believers adhere to strict rules regarding diet, behaviour and work: during the daytime, eating, drinking, smoking and sexual relations are prohibited for those observing the fast. There are only two main meals during Ramadan - suhoor, the last meal before starting the fast until dawn, and Iftar, which breaks the fast after sunset. Suhoor is important for maintaining energy throughout the day, while Iftar often begins with drinking water and dates, following the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad. These restrictions promote self-discipline and self-control, expressing closeness to God and compassion for those in need.

As for everyday business and work activities during Ramadan, UAE residents should be prepared for the following changes:

Delays in banking and government agencies: Bank payments that require personal verification may be delayed, limited to minimally necessary local transfers considered low-risk by the system. In the work of government bodies, for example, company registration is suspended until the end of the holiday.

Increased waiting times: For example, real estate transactions may slow down due to reduced opening hours at the Land Department, which impacts the processing of transactions.

Shortened Work Hours: Work days are often shortened, and lunch and coffee breaks are more flexible to accommodate changes in the faithful's daily routine. It helps you stay productive and spend more time in prayer and reflection.

Flexibility of schedules: Besides shorter hours, many companies offer more flexible work schedules to accommodate the need for suhoor, Iftar, and evening prayers (tarawih).

Ramadan discounts and promotions: Retailers and brands tend to offer special promotions, discounts and limited items, especially for Ramadan, attracting shoppers with unique offers.

Impact on shopping malls and retail stores: Many are extending their opening hours in the evening to allow Muslims to shop after permitted meal times. At the same time, some stores may remain open as usual but adapt their advertising and marketing campaigns to suit Ramadan.

Antwort Law's recommendations for companies to adapt during Ramadan in the UAE:

1) explain to the team the basics of Ramadan and its impact on work activities; you will show respect for the traditions and beliefs of the local population;

2) Try to adapt your company's work schedule to the needs of employees and customers during Ramadan. It may include changing working hours or allowing people to work from home.

3) Develop special marketing promotions and offers tailored to Ramadan to attract more customers and increase sales during this period.

Ramadan significantly impacts business in the UAE, and understanding the month and its cultural implications will help companies successfully navigate the challenges and opportunities it presents. With these tips in mind, businesses can effectively adapt to changes and maintain productivity during this holy month for the Muslim world. Our international team at Antwort Law is always ready to help you navigate your business's legal and tax aspects in the UAE and other countries.

Lidia Ivanova

International lawyer
Antwort Law

Actual Services
How does Ramadan affect business in the UAE?
Payments in banks, registration of companies with government agencies are suspended, the operating hours of many companies are changed, and most often the working day is shortened. Prepare in advance for this period and try to make all payments and important matters in advance.
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