The Middle East, Turkey, Morocco, and Egypt – some of the best destinations in the world are commemorating their Ramadan right now. You need not shy away from these destinations or make any change in your travel plans, but it will be practical to get updated with travel etiquette concerning Ramadan.
There is thrill when travel takes you to places steeped with a culture and customs that are very different from what you are familiar with or used to. It is an education by itself. Know, however, that adventuring may bring risk, particularly when you do things unacceptable in your host nation.
If you like to know what to expect and how you can adjust your travel plans, Condé Nast Traveler Travelers offers this blog by Susan Hack: Etiquette During Ramadan: Do’s and Don’ts. Hack gives you a glimpse of what life is like in a Muslim country during Ramadan.
“In predominantly Muslim countries, fasting is not imposed on non-Muslim residents and visitors. But business hours may be shortened, and food and entertainment services in hotels and other public places may also be affected.”
“Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, commemorates the revelation of the Quran by Allah to the Prophet Mohammed, and is celebrated by Muslims all over the world who, from sunrise to sunset for 30 days straight, refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, arguing, cursing, and sexual activity.”
International SOS also offers sets of guidelines to show respect to the locals in Muslim countries, as well as to stay healthy during Ramadan, if you are a practicing Muslim in this article: Advice on Healthy Fasting and Travel Etiquette During Ramadan
Ramadan Etiquette in Public Places
“International SOS, the world’s leading medical and travel security risk services company, recommends the following Ramadan etiquette points for travellers to Muslim countries during Ramadan.”
- Do not eat, drink or smoke in public: These are considered impolite when done in public places, such as on public transportation or in private cars. In Egypt, eating in public is regarded as a form of respect, but it is compulsory in most Muslim nations – Oman, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the UAE. To be sure, check local laws. Make sure not to play loud music or chew gum in public places too.
- Dress modestly: Avoid wearing skimpy and revealing clothes – sleeveless, shorts, miniskirts and other clothing items in sheer fabrics, particularly in public places and iftar tents where people eat after sundown.
- Be mindful of workplace etiquette: If you are travelling during Ramadan for business, it is respectful to be aware of the adjusted time of work and to schedule meetings in the mornings and not over lunch. As a non-Muslim, you may eat, but avoid doing it publicly, and especially not during a meeting with Muslim attendees.
- Check food and entertainment schedules: Try to fix your schedule in such a way as it will be flexible insofar as eating and entertainment are concerned. Most dining places are busy after sunset with iftar. Shopping malls and traffic are also busy in the evening.
- Additional tips – avoid public displays of affection, listening to loud music and chewing gum in public. Do not order alcohol or pork around Iftar at a restaurant.
Ramadan Etiquette About Fasting and Eating
In addition, International SOS is providing seven key tips for staying healthy during the upcoming Holy Month of Ramadan.
If you are a practicing Muslim, the Medical Director of International SOS Dr. Issam Badaoui,, has this piece of advice, “…make sure to consume a balanced diet, drink plenty of water, and get sufficient rest. With Ramadan falling during the warm months of June and July this year, it is all the more important that people are careful to avoid any immediate health risks, particularly low blood sugar and dehydration. Fasters should exercise moderation in their eating and drinking habits between Iftar and Imsak, to make it easier for their bodies to adjust to both keeping and breaking the fast every day.”
- Eat moderately at Iftar: Eating after a day of fasting can cause you to feel dizzy, nauseous, tired or queasy on the stomach. Break fasting with dates, water or yoghurt , and then wait for 10 minutes before eating a modest quantity of food.
- Make sure to eat Suhour: Wake up early and have something to eat before Imsak, the few moments before the Fajr or morning prayer. A perfect meal at this time, called Suhour, consists of complex carbohydrates – barley, whole-grain bread, lentils, etc – to have enough energy until the end of the fasting day.
- Get sufficient sleep: Your daily routine is bound to change, with the gatherings and prayers. With fasting, your metabolism and health are affected. It is best to get a good number of hours of rest and sleep.
- Adapt your exercise regime: Like your daily routine, adjust your exercise or workout so you won’t unduly tire yourself with your fasting. Doctors advise that you do your light exercise after iftar.
- Managing medication and chronic illness: If you are taking medications, ask your doctor about making an adjustment on the time of taking them.
- Plan workload carefully: Though work is generally lighter during Ramadan, it is still important to be reminded that heavy work would inappropriate when you are fasting. If certain tasks can’t be avoided, get them done in the morning when you still have the energy.
- Be extra cautious on the road: Fasting can cause your blood sugar to drop suddenly causing you to faint or feel dizzy. Be very careful; this is the reason fr the high incidence of accidents before iftar.
Knowing these things can make a difference in the quality of your experience. Rather than be apprehensive, learn the Ramadan etiquettes and try to embrace the uniqueness of the experience. Knowing the Ramadan-related etiquette is empowering. It can help you enjoy your days in a Muslim country and keep you healthy, if you are a practitioner.