Travelling during public holidays
Ramadan - what to expect
One of the pillars of Islam requires Muslims to fast during the Holy Month of Ramadan, the month which commemorates the divine gift of the Koran to the Prophet Mohammed. From sunrise to sunset, those who fast must refrain from eating, drinking and smoking. There are good and bad aspects of visiting the country during Ramadan. On the bright side, people hit the streets after the sunset "breakfast" ready to sing, play cards, enjoy some of the special musical and theatrical entertainments and just generally have fun. Shops re-open until the early hours, and many hotels create special Ramadan Tents where they offer traditional holiday snacks and drinks, live entertainment, water pipes, backgammon boards, card games and the like.
The other side of the coin is that many aspects of "business as usual" don't apply during the month. Banks and offices all have shorter working hours, some restaurants close for the entire month, and about an hour before sunset the roads and streets will be full of people racing to buy last-minute supplies and get home in time for Al Iftar(the evening meal). If you plan to visit during Ramadan, you should understand that the touring day will be shortened. There will still be plenty of restaurants open and serving lunch, especially in the tourist areas, but it would be very bad manners to eat, drink or smoke in the sight of passers-by.
Do remember, if you visit during Ramadan, that your dress should be a bit more circumspect than usual. Some women who do not normally cover their heads do so during Ramadan, and often feel that make-up, perfume and other "vanities of the flesh" should be given up during this month.
The precise dates of Ramadan varies from year to year. Ramadan lasts for about a month and is dependent on the lunar cycle and the Islamic lunar calendar. Forthcoming Ramadan dates are: 12 April - 11 May 2021.