The holy month of Ramadan is the most important in the Islamic calendar. It has a special significance as it is a period of fasting and prayer during which the majority of Muslims refrain from eating or drinking from sunrise until sunset.
In the UAE too Ramadan is a very special time as the vast number of expatriates get an insight about the traditions and cultural nuances during the holy month.
Ramadan has an official status in all Muslim majority countries. Governments issue directives to enable people to fast and to maintain the sanctity of the holy month. Curtailed working hours and restrictions on consuming food in public areas are just some of the changes that one will witness during this period.
There is a general notion that business activity tends to slow down during the period of Ramadan. Since there are restrictions on eating and drinking during the daylight hours it is assumed that F&B sector is the most affected during the holy month. But this not entirely true here in the UAE thanks to the presence of a significant expatriate population. In recent developments restaurants are allows to remain open during the daytime if they follow directives and cover up all windows to prevent food being seen by others walking by. There is also a significant increase for take-out lunch orders during Ramadan. The cultural significance of ‘Iftar’, the breaking of the fast, also offers a lucrative business opportunity as corporate entities and individuals use this time to promote cultural understanding and encourage social interaction amongst their staff and clients.
Overall too shopping is sluggish during the daytime but we see a rise in e-commerce sales owing to the fact that people stay awake for longer hours. Supermarkets and e-groceries however see a surge in demand as families turn to cook and serve a variety of food during the season as entertaining is on the high. Additionally the Ramadan Night Souq offers an excellent opportunity for small and family businesses to display and sell their merchandise.
Another significant change witnessed during this period is the shorter working hours. As businesses shut down earlier there is bound to be a ripple effect on productivity too. Even the traffic situation sees a drastic change with roads witnessing traffic congestion during the usually lean afternoon hours while the roads bear a deserted look during the usually crowded evening time.
The holy month ends with Eid-ul-Fitr and this occasion brings with it a boom time for business as people shop for gifts and clothes to prepare for the celebrations. Eid is also a time for special preparations and feasts.
The vibrant UAE market and its unique cultural diversity allows businesses to thrive even during Ramadan. The UAE’s image as a significant international business hub is also plays a positive role in helping businesses during the holy month. It is worth mentioning that the UAE remains best country in the MENA region to do business. It features in the top 20 countries for ease of doing business and is ranked 16th in World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 report.