May 31, 2017, 7:00 am

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan began on Saturday, May 27 and will end on Sunday, June 24. During this time, more than 1.5 billion Muslims around the world will mark the month, during which believers abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and having martial relations from dawn until sunset.

During this period, meetings may be difficult to secure or cancelled at short notice, though in most cases, businesses catering to foreigners will remain operational during daylight hours. In Muslim-minority countries, certain Muslim-owned businesses may alter operating hours. The extent of disruption to business activity and the nature of cultural sensitivities during Ramadan vary from country to country as well as across different regions within individual countries.

Non-Muslims are also expected to refrain from eating, drinking, or smoking in public during daylight hours, especially in more strictly observant countries. Travelers should restrict such activity to private spaces such as hotel rooms or areas that have been clearly designated for these purposes. Travelers in these areas should be mindful of customs and adhere to more conservative dress standards. Violations of Ramadan rules and laws can lead to arrest. 

The primary related risk is that posed by road accidents, particularly as dusk approaches, when a combination of exhaustion, hunger and impatience can lead to a significant deterioration in driving standards. In addition, travelers should take enhanced precautions against petty crime; criminals may find more incentive and opportunity to operate during festival periods.

Travel Advice

  • Liaise with local contacts to determine the extent to which foreigners are expected to comply with Ramadan practices, and what disruption can be expected. Individuals should respect cultural and religious sensitivities at all times.

  • Be respectful of religious and cultural practices. Restrict the consumption of food, beverages and cigarettes during daylight hours during the month of Ramadan to private spaces or areas clearly designated for such activities.

  • Be prepared for difficulties associated with securing meetings. Reconfirm all appointments prior to travelling and schedule meetings during morning hours, when possible.

  • Adhere to more conservative dress standards.

  • Be cautious in public gatherings and crowded areas; anticipate heightened security in the vicinity of Western embassies, transport hubs, and government and military buildings.

  • Avoid overt displays of wealth to mitigate the increased risk posed by petty crime; remain vigilant of surroundings and report any suspicious behavior to the authorities. 

  • Exercise extra caution when driving or in pedestrian areas due to the heightened risk of road traffic accidents during Ramadan, particularly in the hours preceding the breaking of the fast (Iftar).

  • Keep your cell phone charged and with you at all times. Respond to communication from the university if required.


As always, if you are abroad and in need of immediate assistance (medical or security related) please call International SOS at 215-942-8059 (collect calls accepted) or UTPD at 512-471-4441.