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Information on Ramadan 2017 When Visiting Muslim Countries
Sunrise, Sunset, Sunshine!
Ramadan 2017 will start on Saturday 27th May and will continue for thirty days until Sunday 25th of June. The timing of Ramadan is dictated by the changing phases of the moon.
Basic Information for Tourists Concerning Ramadan
Visitors to predominantly Muslim countries during the month of Ramadan are wise to make themselves aware of the local customs preferably before they travel as it can make a significant impact on various aspects of their stay. Often tourists do very little in the way of research before travelling apart from checking on the expected weather conditions for the time of year but wherever you go in the world it makes sense to check the calendar for any festivities and religious events that will be occurring during your visit. This can only be beneficial and you may find that it even adds some memorable highlights to your stay.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and a month of fasting which culminates in a time of celebration marked by three day’s feasting known as Eid-ul-Fitr when the fast is over. Ramadan can be compared to Lent in the Christian church calendar and like Easter, it is not fixed to a certain time each year. Thus it can be especially difficult for devout Muslims to undertake when it occurs in the height of the summer season in a hot climate. Ramadan is in commemoration of the first revelation of the Koran to the Prophet, Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel.
For strict Muslims, no smoking, drinking or eating or sexual activity is permitted during daylight hours during the Ramadan wherever they happen to live in the world. .From dawn to dusk throughout the whole month even water is not allowed to pass one's lips, except for the very young, the elderly and infirm and pregnant women and those with medical conditions such as diabetes. Natives of Muslim countries tend to stay indoors away from the heat of the day during Ramadan which is common sense in order to avoid heat exhaustion and dehydration. They will enjoy a family gathering after sunset when eating and drinking is again permissible. Ending the fast at sunset each day is known as Iftar and this can often be an extremely busy and noisy time of day when everyone becomes more active in the evening as the strong sunshine subsides. It is a time of giving gifts, being charitable and spending time with family.
For the devout Muslim, the daylight hours during Ramadan are intended as a spiritual time for prayer and quiet contemplation which is said to be better achieved if bodily needs are given less thought.
Have a Beach All to Yourself During Ramadan!
You Can Be Sure to Find a Place to Sit in the Shade Too!
When in Rome, do as the Romans do— St. Ambrose
Guide to Morocco
Wherever You Go in the World Be Mindful of Cultural Differences
Generally speaking, remember when travelling to any foreign country where people have unfamiliar customs and religious beliefs to always be respectful of their ways and be aware that they will not always thoroughly understand the things that are second nature to you. Language differences aside, respect is a universal language. ‘When in Rome do as the Romans do,’ is always a good thought to bear in mind. Be ready to embrace other ideas and concepts which although alien to your own way of thinking may help you to see things from an entirely different perspective. You will be certain to develop a keen insight into the beliefs and values of other cultures and embrace the diversity.
Respect Local Customs and Remember to Ask if You Want to Take Photos Whether It's Ramadan or Not!
What is Expected of the Foreign Visitor?
In Muslim countries, foreigners are not expected to participate in the Ramadan fast but it is wise to be discreet and respectful and to refrain from eating, drinking and smoking in public between sunrise and sunset.
Foreign visitors will often find that many attractions close down completely during the period of Ramadan. The residents in some Muslim countries may be less liberal in their ways than in others so it would be wise to do your research before the date of your holiday so you know exactly what to expect in your specific destination. You may find that banks and shops will close a little earlier than usual but most services won't be seriously affected. Your tour guide if you have one will be able to advise you further on this. For those tourists who don't venture far from their hotel except on an organised tour, the Ramadan will have virtually no effect on them at all.
Spending Ramadan in a Muslim country can be a positive thing or a negative thing depending on your expectations. For instance eating out for lunch could be a problem as those restaurants that would normally be open may be closed or will only be able to offer a restricted menu selection such as pizza or simple meals that don't take a lot of preparation. It's best to be aware that business hours will be shorter and arrangements of any sort will take longer than usual so allow yourself plenty of time to complete any travel plans if travelling on your own and not part of a package holiday.
Restaurants come alive at night when it is possible to purchase an ‘All you can eat’ Ramadan special usually consisting of a self-serve platter of various foods. Street markets too become a hive of activity ablaze with colour when all manner of foodstuffs are sold once the sun has gone down. Here you can join in with the festivities and partake of some of the wonderful snacks and sweet pastries readily available. Streets may also be brightly lit with colourful lanterns so it is an experience not to be missed and an opportunity for keen photographers.
If you don’t mind having a fair stretch of beach all to yourself and are not particularly ‘a people person’ the Ramadan could be the ideal time to travel. You may be able to find some great self-catering reductions where you can make the most of this rare peace and solitude. Even hotels are often willing to reduce their tariff rather than be left with an empty room. The sun will be just as hot as it is in other countries in high season but you can relax and enjoy your holiday at a more leisurely pace in a less crowded environment. However you can't expect large attractions such as water parks to be open and you may have to be content with the sea or your hotel pool.
Ramadan often has a detrimental effect on the summer season from the point of view of high season bookings if you own a holiday home in a Muslim country. 2017 sees an earlier Ramadan than previous years so bookings will not be affected as much. You will no doubt need to reduce your prices considerably to find clients during Ramadan. Unlike Christmas when holiday prices go up, the same does not apply during Ramadan! This has happened during the past couple of years or so before Ramadan become too early in the year to affect high season tourism. Muslim countries with a May to October holiday season such as Mediterranean Morocco and Tunisia will thus be very quiet over Ramadan.
What is Ramadan?
Music Video Celebrating Ramadan
© 2015 Stella Kaye