Ramadan in the UAE is a unique experience, in some ways similar to the pre-Christmas period in the Western world. It is a time of worship, spiritual reflection but also of charity and gift giving.
Retail sales are greatly boosted during this period in almost all categories, but especially food & drink, clothing & apparel, giftware and homeware. Car dealerships also offer very attractive rates and offers during Ramadan so it is not uncommon for people to wait till Ramadan to buy a car.
Throughout the month of Ramadan, families and friends come together for suhoor (morning pre-dawn meal) and iftaar (meal to break the fast at sunset) and there is a lot of emphasis on gift giving. Typical gifts will range from food & drink hampers to accessories for the home. While a lot of people will entertain at home, many will also take advantage of the many suhoor and iftaar buffets on offer at hotels and restaurants.
While the days are quiet and the food & beverage outlets are either closed or operate behind curtains, the city comes alive in the evenings. Almost all the malls have extended hours of operation well into midnight. These hours are extended even further in the lead up and during the three days of Eid.
In the last few years, Dubai has been operating the ‘Ramadan in Dubai’ festival which sees a lot of visitors, especially from the neighbouring GCC countries visiting the Emirate which also boosts sales for retailers. There are special discounts and offers and also cultural and educational activities organised at public places, typically shopping centres, for residents and visitors.
As opposed to shopping centres that will boost sales for established brands, other formats have also sprung up that support smaller retailers and homegrown concepts during Ramadan such as the Ramadan Night Market in Dubai which has been running for five years now. The event runs for 10 days towards the end of Ramadan and last year saw 116,000 visitors.
Since the spirit of giving and charity is very important to Ramadan, many retailers will launch special CSR and charitable campaigns during Ramadan to support a variety of causes ranging from iftaar camps for those less fortunate to care packages and donations to charities in the UAE and abroad.
All in all, while business slows down in some cases, it also does well for other sectors such as retail. It is nice to experience a different rhythm of working and find time for friends and family, and equally for oneself, to find balance in our lives during Ramadan.
Wishing everyone a blessed and happy Ramadan!