The holy month of Ramadan, whereby Muslims fast from dawn to sunset each day, commenced on Wednesday 16th May 2018 and will culminate on Thursday 14th June in the UAE.
The sighting of the new moon marked the start of a month long fast as well as a period of self-reflection, charitable giving and connection with family and friends, both near and far. It is therefore, important to respect those who are fasting and consider this within the working environment. Companies should also embrace this time to connect culturally and give back to local communities. There are many opportunities to support charities as well as plan individual company CRR programs.
Companies across the UAE are encouraged to ensure they are well-versed in understanding exactly what this means for those observing the month of Ramadan. The working day will be shorter with Muslims leaving the work place earlier to enjoy iftar with their families. Both Muslims and Non-Muslims must refrain from eating, drinking or chewing gum in public in the UAE.
Businesses in Islamic states should be conscious of how Ramadan can affect their business sector as well as their company and employees. The retail industry will be particularly busy as companies see sales spike particularly across food, clothing and gifting. It is reported that the top three performing sectors are retail, travel and employment. Malls have seen a high footfall and a spike in sales, in addition, online retail can expect an inflated market across the month.
Cities in the UAE will also come alive after dark with celebrations, shopping and dining with family and friends. Cafes will become particularly busy whereby residents can enjoy tea, coffee and sweet treats in the evening.
There are increased opportunities to advertise with a surge in TV viewership across the region as well as time spent online, particularly on social media sites. Media strategies should be adapted to ensure consumers are targeted during the evening hours when people are the most active. It is worth noting that more video content is consumed during Ramadan, with Google reporting that between “2013 and 2015, daily video views increased by 200 million in MENA alone”. In addition, mobile usage increases across the holy month. During Ramadan 2015, “searches on mobile represented more than 60% of total queries”. “This is approximately 5% higher than the average mobile share in other months – an increase that translates into millions more searches during the Ramadan period.”
For other industries, business may slow down with the reduced working hours, particularly for public companies with working hours for UAE Government Ministries reported as 9am – 2pm.
Eid al Fitr, a festival of gratitude, is expected to be celebrated from Friday 15th June 2018, marking the end of Ramadan. This is a two-day festival and is marked as a national holiday in the UAE. This is a joyous occasion whereby Muslims give praise to god. The holiday gives family the opportunity to spend time together and exchange gifts.