Working in Saudi Arabia During Ramadan

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. This is no ordinary month, however; it is the month when Muslims around the world observe daily fasting.

Ramadan is a time of fasting, prayers, and charity, but it is also a time to celebrate and spend time with family and friends. The holy month of Ramadan allows businesses to connect with their clients because it fosters a sense of community and belonging. Foreign visitors to the Kingdom should respect religious holidays and observe customary etiquette. During the holy month, professionals in Saudi Arabia should expect some changes and allow for some flexibility in their normal business practices.

Things To Do:

  • Be aware of business hours: To benefit the fasting Muslims during Ramadan,Saudi Arabia reduces the working day to a maximum of 6 hours or 36 hours per week. 
  • Dress appropriately: During Ramadan, visitors are advised to dress modestly to be respectful.
  • Exchange Ramadan greetings: During Ramadan, Muslims use the greeting “Ramadan Kareem” to greet one another, and at the end of Ramadan, during Eid celebrations, Muslims use the greeting “Eid Mubarak”.
  • Be generous: Ramadan is a time of giving to those in need. Ramadan is a time for generosity and giving back.
  • Attend iftar: Muslims often invite others for Iftar meals during Ramadan. It is a good time to bring gifts and sweets for the hosts.
  • Be aware of the Eid Holiday: At the end of Ramadan, the Eid holidays begin. Employees are granted four days of paid holiday for Eid.
  • Be prepared for traffic on the road: 
  • Before sunset, traffic is heavy. As many people head out to break their fast at Iftar, the roads are busy as people hurry to join friends, family, or colleagues.
  • Expect delays in government departments:
  •  Many government offices may experience delays due to a reduction in working hours.

Things To Avoid:

  • Eating, drinking and smoking in public: Consumption of food, smoking during fasting hours (before sunset) is considered inappropriate and can result in serious disciplinary actions.
  • Affection is public: Avoid displays of affection at all times of the year, but especially during Ramadan.
  • Loud music: It is crucial for foreigners who are experiencing Ramadan for the first time to be considerate of people who are fasting.

Although Saudi Arabia is an interesting market for business, it may be challenging to navigate. As Ramadan approaches, Saudi workers should brace themselves for a modest adjustment in business procedures and a probable stall in some activities.