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Ramadan is the name of the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. It comes after Shaban - the eighth month, and is followed by Shawwal. Ramadan is an important period of religious significance for Muslims and they observe the period by fasting during the daytime, worshipping and contemplating spiritual thoughts as described in the holy book of Quran.

Ramadan is regarded as the holiest month in the Islam calendar. Muslims believe that Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) received the revelations of Quran during the month of Ramadan on the night of Laylat al Qadr which falls in the last ten days of the Ramadan period.

This year, the first day of fasting is expected on 20 August 2009 in the UAE (subject to confirmation by moon sighting committee).

Ramadan Facts
When the first day of Ramadan is announced, one can hear "Ramadan Mubarak" and "Ramadan Kareem" being exchanged. kareem means generous and mubarak means blessings.

Muslims observing the fast do not eat/drink anything between sunrise and sunset. However, they can have a light meal before sunrise which is known as Suhoor. And a light snack of dates and water just after sunset which is known as Iftar. However Iftar has a more lavish approach in Dubai and many hotels set up tents for a rich buffet of food.

The following are some of the rules observed by a Muslim during the holy period of Ramadan:
•No eating, drinking, smoking or sex between sunrise (fajr) and sunset (maghrib)
•Curb undesirable emotions such as anger, greed, envy, lust, and refrain from gossip.
•Keep thoughts and actions pure and use the time of fasting for spiritual contemplation.
•Be charitable and help those in need.
•Visit friends and family members.
Only Children (below 12 years), the elderly, pregnant or nursing women, sick people, and those who are fighting in a battle are not expected to fast. Instead they should feed one poor person each day during Ramadan, or, in the case of temporary conditions, make up the days by fasting at a later date.

Ramadan events and activities in Dubai
•Iftar is the evening time when, just after the sun sets, a cannon is fired to announce the breaking of the fast for the day.
•Many hotels will have special Iftar tents where customers can have a simple or more complex meal - with a range of prices to match.
•Ramadan is seen as an opportunity to visit friends and family members
•The rulers in various emirates pardon a number of prison inmates on the first day of Ramadan. Some are also released for the month of Ramadan to spend time with their family.
•Most businesses and government offices will close for the day between 1400 and 1600. Iftar is around 1730-1830 depending on the time of year and when the sun sets.
•Business activities tend to slow down during Ramadan.
•Almost all restaurants and cafes will be closed during the day but many will extend their opening hours at night.
•There will be a few eating outlets open during the day for dine-in customers in larger hotels and shopping centers. Some fast food restaurants allow drive-through or take-outs.
•Supermarkets are normally open during the day and have extended hours at night - sometimes till midnight or even later.
•Shopping centers are open during the day and an extra hour or two at night.
Rules specific to Dubai and the UAE
•Companies are required by law to reduce working time by 2 hours per day for all employees, not only Muslims. If employees work longer hours, they should receive overtime pay.
•It is illegal to eat, drink or smoke in public during daylight hours (including your car).
•It is respectful and polite to dress more conservatively during Ramadan - shoulders and legs should be covered.
•Bars in Dubai are open but the entry is not allowed to a person of the Muslim religion. Bars in other emirates like Abu Dhabi are closed.
•Alcohol related offences – drunken driving etc are treated much more harshly than other times.
•Loud music is banned. If you are caught playing loud/rock music, you might be fined.
•Traffic jams occur during the morning and 13:00 – 15:00 time-frame and during Iftar parties in the evening after sunset.

Eid Al Fitr
•Eid Al Fitr is a holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, and the start of the next month in the Islamic calendar.
•Eid is usually a 3 day holiday. The actual date it starts is announced after a moon sighting committee decision.
•Airports and border crossings are busy as many people take the opportunity to go overseas for a holiday and/or to visit family and friends.

Ramadan Glossary
•Adhan - call to prayer
•Allah - God
•Asr - mid-afternoon prayer
•Dhuhur/ Zuhr - midday prayer
•Eid Al Adha (Day of Sacrifice) - a 4 day festival that starts about 70 days after the end of Ramadan, commemorating Ibrahim / Abraham being ready to sacrifice his son.
•Eid Al Fitr - a festival at the end of Ramadan (the first three days of the month of Shawwal) to celebrate the completion of the month of fasting.
•Eid Mubarak - congratulations at the start of Eid
•Fajr (dawn) - the first prayer of the day, at dawn
•Fawanees - colorful lanterns used to decorate Iftar tents
•Iftar - the evening meal after sunset to break the daily fast during Ramadan
•Imsak - beginning the daily fast, means the act rather than the time
•Isha - evening prayer, the fifth and last prayer of the day
•Kabaa - the black granite building inside the Grand Mosque in Mecca, regarded as the holiest place in Islam.
•Laylat Al Qadr - one of the last nights of Ramadan, marking the anniversary of when the first verses of the Qur’an were revealed to the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) by the Angel Gabriel.
•Maghreb - sunset prayer
•Manara - minaret
•Qibla - the direction of the Ka’ba in Mecca
•Qur’an - the holy book for Islam, first revealed during Lailat Al Qadr. Muslims recite the entire Quran during Ramadan.
• Rak’ah - the cycle of standing, bowing, prostration and recitation that make up a unit of prayer.
•Ramadan Kareem - Ramadan greetings
•Ramadan Mubarak - Ramadan greetings
•Salah - praying
•Sawm - abstinence or fasting
•Suhoor - the morning meal taken before the sun rises and the start of fasting during Ramadan
•Shurooq - early morning prayer
•Sunnah - the way of the Prophet, meaning to follow his words and actions.
•Taraweeh prayers - special evening prayers during Ramadan, after Isha, when the Quran is recited.
•Wudu - cleansing of the body when preparing for prayer
•Zakat - giving alms. It is especially important for Muslims to give Zakat during Ramadan.

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