Ramadan rules: Foreigners in GCC need to know them

When visiting Saudi Arabia, travellers have to be respectful of customary etiquette

(Image supplied)

(Image supplied)

A Saudi-based company has issued guidelines for professionals working or visiting the Kingdom during Ramadan.

Proven Saudi Arabia, a business support service provider, has advised professionals to incorporate slight changes in their business practices and be ready for a “potential slowdown” in some processes during Ramadan.

Local media reports suggest Ramadan in the UAE to start from May 27.

According to Proven, sectors such as retail and food/beverage have registered 25 percent increase in sales last year during the month of Ramadan.

In fact, it said business practices are not likely to see summer slowdown following the announcement of Vision 2030 and the ambitious goals to diversify the economy.

Here is the list of things to do and also to avoid during Ramadan:

The do list

# Be aware of business hours: Like most companies in the GCC, Saudi Arabia reduces the working day to a maximum of 6 hours for Muslims or 36 hours per week. This is to accommodate those who are fasting.

# Be aware of the Eid Holiday: Muslim and non-Muslim employees are entitled to a four-day paid vacation for the Eid holiday, as per article 112 of the Saudi Labour Law. The vacation amount can be as much as 15 days, depending on the employer.

# Dress appropriately: Visitors should take extra care in ensuring they are dressing modestly during the month of Ramadan.

# Exchange Ramadan greetings: It is custom to use the greeting “Ramadan Kareem” when meeting Muslims, and at the end of Ramadan, during Eid celebrations, the greeting “Eid Mubarak” is used.

# Be charitable: During Ramadan, taking time to be generous and charitable to the less fortunate is a part of the essence of the month.

# Attend iftar: Accept invitations to Iftar meals. It is courteous to bring a gift or a dish to contribute.

# Allow extra time for traffic: The traffic is heaviest 30 minutes before sunset. Roads are congested as people head out to break their fast at Iftars with friends, family or colleagues.

# Expect delays in government departments: Due to reduced working hours, governmental departments may experience delays.

The don’t do list

# Eat and drink in public: Note that chewing gum constitutes as eating. It is considered disrespectful to eat during fasting hours and can lead to severe disciplinary action.

# Smoking: During Ramadan, smoking in public is not allowed until after the evening Taraweeh prayer at sunset, and in Saudi Arabia, there will be few places that allow smoking during the month.

# Public displays of affection: This is the same as other times of the year, but especially during Ramadan, avoid public acts of affection.

# Play loud music: For foreigners experiencing Ramadan for the first time, it is important to stay respectful to those fasting.

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