During the 29-30 days of Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, observant Muslims fast from dawn to sunset. As a Muslim country, Qatar departs significantly from its regular programming during this time.
For those who have never experienced Ramadan here (and for those in need of a refresher), here are some key things to know:
1. The sun and the moon matter a lot more
Because the Islamic calendar is lunar, we won’t know for sure when fasting begins until the new moon is sighted. This year, the first day of fasting was on Thursday, June 18.
Once Ramadan begins, those who are fasting will abstain from food, water, smoking and sexual activity from dawn to sunset. The month will end with the sighting of the next new moon, and a days-long celebration called Eid Al Fitr (festival of fast-breaking) around July 17.
2. Schedules change dramatically
Whether you’re Muslim or not, Qatar law mandates shortened workdays for residents during Ramadan.
For the private sector, that means six hours a day instead of eight. Government ministries and other public institutions operate five hours a day, from 9am to 2pm.
However, business continues as usual in some workplaces. In this instance, employees are typically entitled to overtime compensation.
3. There’s no eating/drinking in public
It’s illegal in Qatar to consume food, drink beverages or chew gum in public spaces during Ramadan, and violators can be fined for doing so (though usually they’re just warned).
Due to this, most restaurants and coffee shops here are closed during lunchtime, though some do offer takeaway menus. In terms of eating at work, some employers are more strict than others.
Many Muslims don’t mind if those who aren’t fasting (non-Muslims and Muslims who are ill, or women who are pregnant or menstruating) consume food or drink beverages in front of them.
Others may take offense, and in those offices co-workers may be asked to take their meals in one designated spot (a lunchroom, for example). Some employees may decide to wait until they get home to eat, which could be easier due to the shortened work hours.
4. It’s going to be a hot month
Qatar’s summer is expected to be hotter and last longer than usual this year, thanks to the return of the climate pattern known as El Niño.
This will likely pose a challenge for those who are fasting, as the days are expected to last more than 15 hours during the first third of the month.
Taking into account the shortened hours, the hot weather and long days, it’s likely that productivity will drop significantly during Ramadan. So if you have important government paperwork to sort out, you may want to try to get it done before next week.
5. It’s a spiritual time
Many Muslims will tell you that Ramadan makes them more introspective, as people with empty stomachs tend to reflect more and move closer to God because they aren’t as distracted by worldly things.
Due to shortened work hours and the more relaxed days, many residents will also increase their nightly prayers in mosques, especially during the last 10 days of Ramadan.
Altruism also increases during this month, with people donating more to charity. Families and companies also sponsor charity iftaar tents that offer free meals to those who need them (whether they are fasting or not).
And each year, Hyatt Plaza holds a fast-a-thon for non-Muslims who want to try not eating and drinking all day. During the event, in which participants get a free dinner, the mall typically contributes a few hundred riyals per fasting person to charity. Stay tuned for more details on this.
6. But also a very social month
In addition to feeding the soul, Ramadan in Qatar is also a very sociable time in which residents regularly go out to dine at restaurants that offer lavish buffets, or to visit friends and families holding dinner parties.
Especially during the second half of the month, when schools are out, expect traffic on the roads to be light during the days and very heavy at night (8pm to midnight), when people go out to shop, eat and run errands.
And keep an eye out for special activities – Katara Cultural Village, Aspire Zone and other venues frequently host special recreational and educational programs during Ramadan.
7. Qatar goes dry for 30 days
The only place to buy alcohol for home consumption – the Qatar Distribution Center – is closed for the month (expect long lines outside the warehouse this weekend). Hotel restaurants also stop selling booze during this time.
The taps will start to flow again after the first day of Eid, which is typically celebrated for three days. There are also usually no new releases in movie theaters until Eid.
8. There are unique traditions
Every country marks the holy month differently.
In Qatar, there are a few unique traditions that are observed each year, including:
- Sunset cannon: Each day during Ramadan, a cannon is fired off at sunset to signify that it’s time to break the fast. This takes place at the state mosque near TV Roundabout, and there’s also a cannon in the Old Airport area. Residents usually gather around to witness the (loud) spectacle, and authorities sometimes pass out water and snacks. The tradition seems particularly popular with kids.
- Garangao celebrations: Various venues usually host special activities for children on the 14th of Ramadan to mark Garangao, which is kind of like Halloween without the ghouls and goblins. Across the Gulf, kids typically dress up in traditional clothes and knock on neighbors’ doors to receive nuts and candy, while singing a special Garangao song.
- Corniche car parade: Every year, young Qatari men gather daily in Ramadan for about an hour before sunset to showcase their best vehicles – from Lamborghinis to Maseratis, to vintage Patrols and Land Cruisers. Police presence on the Corniche at this time is heavy, and officers usually block off several turning lanes for traffic coming into West Bay – though lanes remain open for those heading out of the downtown area.
What would you add to this list? Thoughts?
Just a few points of clarifications.
“Taking into account the shortened hours, the hot weather and long days, it’s likely that productivity will drop significantly during Ramadan. So if you have important government paperwork to sort out, you may want to try to get it done before next week.”
No you are too late now, already people are in Ramadan mode and you will hear, ‘after Eid, inshalla’ for all but the most basic requests. Most people in government are not interested in any work now.
“Because the Islamic calendar is lunar, we won’t know for sure when fasting begins until the new moon is sighted”
Not true. It is a very nice cultural tradition but we know exactly when Ramadan starts because we know exactly the position of the moon since before Islam even started. Ramadan starts 18 June.
Ramadan is actually a fun month even for non-muslims, expect more parties at your friends house and ironically more drinking even though the bars and QDC are shut for a month. Also expect the layoffs at company’s to cease during this month as it is not seen as the correct thing to do during the Holy Month.
Have fun and I’ll see you on the other side…..
It’s true that many Arab astronomers were able to predict the exact lunar activity from the time before Islam as well as after, but watching the moonrise with naked eye gives much more of a sense of occasion than looking at the bloody chart! It’s about a festival, not a NASA conference!
Yes it’s a cultural tradition as I said and a nice one but we don’t have to pretend that we don’t know the facts!
The moon-sighting versus calculating thing is a matter of long-standing debate. The point is, in Qatar, they look for the moon before declaring whether it’s Ramadan/Eid.
It’s not a debate! Qatar and other GCC countries have cultural traditions which is fine but the laws of physics in regards to the motion of bodies in the solar system are well known and not up for debate!
So many scientists are doha news commenters! And science is always up for debate and never fact in the sense you’re using it. The two things you said contradict each other in the scientific terminology you’re attempting.
Deleting the rest of this thread for getting off track.
@shabinakhatri this is a lame excuse. Nothing wrong was said in the comments and usually comments tend to get off the track. Or does dohanews condone content control?
U always like to close threads
Do you actually care when it starts? You must know that they prefer to sight the moon and your scientific mumbo jumbo does not mean much. You are just commenting for lack of better things to do.
You got it the wrong way round, it’s religious mumbo jumbo, science is based on observation and evidence. As I said before it is a nice cultural tradition, like many around the world.
Do I care when it starts? Yes, I don’t want to turn up at a bar and find its shut or get to work too early……..
And Nitche said there is no such things as facts-only interpretations.If I base on observations ,my interpretation of those, says that if there is something on here about religion or america,then you get on the aetheist or anti-USA bandwagon.So consider this a counterbalance before you hit the bars from an American who goes to Church.
I didn’t know the police here condones the Corniche car parade. I thought last year they issued warnings to drivers not to block traffic on the Corniche. Are you sure about your information @Dohanews?
We covered the car parade last year. Police were directing traffic as it was going on. So seemed like it was condoned.
The police issuing warnings to the drivers of Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Maclarens, Bugattis, Rolls Royces, Bentleys?
What a cute photo of that man with his son………..sitting dangerously and irresponsibly out of the sunroof of his car…..!
I am sure this is just “for illustrative purposes” and you would never see this in reality. 😉
in reality, you will see this in a moving action, wait for National Day!
I have seen worst in reality
All you expats’ got is road rage! Doesn’t the picture of howitzer aiming to West Bay bother you!!!!
Btw the car isnt moving
Oh that’s fine then! The kid would be totally fine falling from that height, if the car was not moving, it’s only if it was moving that it would be a problem! Duh.Logic fail.
The man is clearly holding the baby مجنونه
Actually I think it’s the best picture in the article.
Not all resident “Muslim or not” get educed working hours–certainly we have been told via a memo that only Muslims will work reduced hours and we must continue to work 8 hours.
Can you please email that memo to us? (edit[email protected]) This seems to be in violation of the labor law: http://dohape.dfa.gov.ph/images/Logo/forms/LABOUR-LAW-STATE-OF-QATAR.pdf
I don’t think I could-what if this puts me at risk?
Violation of the labour law? Surely not, must be an expat hater
can you post the memo here ??
If you like your job and would like to keep it, than I wouldn’t share the memo. 🙂
I think a lot of Muslims might find that offensive.
I’m not Muslim, but Ramadan is a great time to be in Qatar. I never understood why so many expats leave for the month.
I think for a lot of people, at least for the last few years the mass exodus has been because Ramadan has coincided with summer break. As it creeps back into the school year, the calm we have associated it with will probably ebb away somewhat.
Nothing says charity and introspection like driving one of your 4 Maserati’s down the Corniche for all to see and stare at. This certainly is a cherished tradition. For even more introspection one can stick their children on the roof and their Cheetah in the front seat, as children shouldn’t sit in the front because of the airbag. This driving in circles is often compared to the whirling dervishes and their hypnotic form of remembrance
the guy on the roof of the car with a baby rather than friendly is actually criminal….
The car is not moving – they’re parked waiting to see the cannon.
better than….considering I saw here people driving with infants on their shoulders
I’ve a question about Ramadan. It’s the sort of question a 16 year might ask in their Religious Education class, so I am expecting a range of comments. But it is a genuine question. Here goes. If I were a practicing Muslim and I lived in the far north, say Tromso, above the arctic circle and there is no night during June, no setting sun, what do I do during Ramadan?
If you were standing on the north pole, in what direction would you pray to?
Which way do muslim astronauts pray to in space?
All genuine questions that several muslim scholars have had different answers to.
Many muslims in Scandinavian countries fast for more than 20 hours during summer, while others choose to follow their home countries, on winter however they only fast for 2 hours.
Home countries? There are no Icelandic Muslims? All of them can’t be praising to Odin?
As far as I know all muslims over there are immigrants.
No, they have Thor as well.
Fast during daylight hours. No wonder you can’t get a flight out on SAS at this time of year!
Actually from this coming Ramadhan Muslims in Northern Norway will follow a Fatwa by
Dr. Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz Almosleh from KSA which said that if daylight hrs are more than 20, then they should follow Mecca time. For this Ramadhan as you said-the sun never sets.
FYI There’s an interesting collection of short videos on the BBC website at the moment covering real life experiences of Muslims around the world and how they manage their time during Ramadan. One of them is a Norwegian family actually. Useful perpsective for non muslims.
Ramadan truly is a unique and festive period in this part of the world! Looking forward to it! Happy Ramadan all!! 🙂
Oh it’s versus fact or friction and science or physics.!!!! The truth is it’s Ramadan.. :p
Looking forward to Ramadan. I hope everyone that is observing the season has a successful fasting period. To those that do not follow the Islamic faith, enjoy the cultural experience while you are in Qatar.
To our esteem customers, we thank you for patronizing us,. we announce to the public that we are giving out discount of the price of new items with maximum guarantee and free delivery to your door step , this offer lasts till 30th of August, 2015.
phones for sale include
iphone 6 plus…………………………………………$429.6
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge…………………………………$368.5
Samsung Galaxy Note 4………………………………….$390
Samsung Galaxy S6 mini…………………………………$209
Samsung Galaxy A7……………………………………..$255
HTC One M9……………………………………………$210
Sony Xperia Z3………………………………………..$295.4
Sony Xperia Z4………………………………………..$320
LG G4 Note……………………………………………$360
The G Flex 2………………………………………….$279
Best offer in the market,order now .free shiping on all orders.
Full warranty and unbeatable prices on the latest smartphones bought at gsmgroup company. Hurry place an order to get yours now while offer lasts.
contact us email – [email protected]
Thank you this was very informative. Being non-Muslim this
answered a lot of questions for me. Can someone clarify this for me? Is water considered
Can someone explain to me why QDC has to be closed? Muslims are not meant to be drinking alcohol anyway, whether is it Ramadan or not.
Is it alright to eat/drink in public spaces post Iftar ? If so, until when?