Ramadan in Qatar 2019
With Ramadan only a few days away, we thought this would be a good time to go over what you can expect during Ramadan in Qatar this year. If you are new to Qatar, Ramadan may be a completely new experience for you. If this is the case, read this guide to find out more about doing business during Ramadan, and the various Ramadan rules you will need to abide by.
What is Ramadan?
Known as the Holy Month, Ramadan is a spiritual time where Muslims focus on fasting, charity, and good deeds. Between sunrise and sunset, Muslims cannot eat or drink, and through this fasting, their faith is strengthened, and their soul cleansed. Aside from not eating or drinking during daylight hours, Muslims will also abstain from smoking.
Not all Muslims are required to fast during Ramadan. Those who are young, ill or pregnant are excused from fasting.
When is Ramadan in 2019?
As the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, Ramadan falls on a different date each year. Ramadan starts when the moon is sighted, lasts 29 to 30 days, and ends on the new moon that marks the beginning of Eid al Fitr.
This year, Ramadan in Doha is expected to start on Sunday 5 May and end on Tuesday 4 June.
Eid al Fitr is the festival that marks the end of Ramadan. It translates to the ‘Festival of the Breaking of the Fast’. As it is a three-day holiday for private companies and up to two week’s holiday for government bodies, many expats choose to leave Qatar during this time.
Whether you are new to Qatar, or you have experienced Ramadan here before, it can be a good idea to remind yourself of the various rules that apply during Ramadan.
Eating and Drinking
Throughout Ramadan, it is illegal for adults to eat or drink in public in Qatar during the day. You are also not allowed to smoke or chew gum. When working or doing business in Qatar during Ramadan, you will have to either use a designated spot for eating, like a lunchroom, or you may have to go home to eat.
You may eat and drink as you like in your own home but be mindful of overlooked spaces such as balconies and gardens. Remember, your car is not a private space, so you are not allowed to eat or drink there either.
Most restaurants and shops are closed during the day, except for some takeaway services and some hotels. Check out Ramadan opening hours, as many eateries offer extended opening that is later than usual.
Although alcohol is available in Qatar in a limited fashion throughout the rest of the year, during Ramadan, Qatar is dry. Hotel restaurants and the Qatar Distribution Company are closed throughout Ramadan. Be aware that the QDC gets busy in the lead-up to Ramadan, so get in early to avoid the queues.
No matter your religion, you will usually have a shorter work day throughout Ramadan in Qatar. Qatari law mandates shortened work days. Ministries, government agencies and public bodies and institutions are to work from 9 am till 2 pm, a maximum of five hours per day, and those within the private sector to six hours per day.
Abiding by these rules is just one part of Ramadan, however. Embracing all that Qatar has to offer during Ramadan can provide an eye-opening experience for expats. While you may be restricted in what you can do during daylight hours, there are plenty of activities after dark.
Most restaurants stay open late, while hotels offer lavish iftar and Suhoor buffets. Check out the sunset cannon at State Mosque, the pre-iftar Corniche car parade, and events at Aspire Zone, Pearl-Qatar, and Katara Cultural Village.
Garangao festivities, held in the middle of Ramadan, are also not to be missed. This unique Qatari tradition is something like Halloween, where children dress up in bright, traditional clothing and head out into the neighborhood to sing the Garangao song and receive nuts and sweets from elders.
While things tend to slow down over Ramadan here in Qatar, the events provide an opportunity for community celebration. Just be mindful of the effects of fasting on those around you, dress modestly, and consider the changes fasting will have on rush hour traffic.