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Ramadan 2024 sees Schools Welcome Shorter Days and the Wonders of Not Being Complacent.

Ramadan begins today! With the sighting of the new moon, schools across the UAE have put in place new school days to look after all those children who are fasting (Sawm) during Ramadan. Sawm is the Fourth Pillar of Islam, a hugely important part of the Holy Qur’an. It is a very inspirational and powerful time when all all those who fast think about all those who are less fortunate than themselves, including the very poorest in society. Ramadan recognises the month during which all the wonders of the Holy Qur’an was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.

Ramadan begins! How Ramadan and Fasting fits within the Five Pillars of Islam.

Ramadan begins! How Ramadan and Fasting fits within the Five Pillars of Islam.

Many children across UAE schools, from today, as Ramadan begins, will abstain from all eating and drinking from dawn to sunset. This means that often those celebrating Ramadan do not eat or drink for 14 hours or more – and because of the way the moon works the time increases through the month. It is a real struggle for many children – but sometimes in life it is only by losing what we take for granted; that we learn to value what is actually most important in life. Ramadan is a period in which we learn not to be complacent. Ramadan inspires children to question everything and find the best in themselves and others. It is actually very educational at its core – and an amazing asset for all children who are educated in the UAE. Ramadan is not only for Muslim children – all students benefit from the discussions and learning that take place around it. Ramadan is a time in most schools when those children who are not Muslim also learn about sensitivity and compassion as they see their friends and peers struggling.

Ramadan 2024 Begins in Schools

During Ramadan, people greet each other by saying ‘Ramadan Kareem’ – which means ‘Happy Ramadan’.

Whilst the school day is difficult, Ramadan is also a month filled with absolute joy! At sunset, Muslims break their fast with a special meal called Iftar, perform Tarawih (a worship that takes place at night after evening prayer) – and fill streets and homes with a celebration of their faith and the learning from each day. The evenings see every Emirate filled with bustle and excitement.


Everyone knows each stage of Ramadan, and when Iftar has come, because of “The Firing of the Canon” ((Midfa Al Iftar). This takes place across the UAE. In Dubai:

“Under the responsibility of Dubai Police’s general department of protective security and emergency, each cannon is assigned four officers and is placed in six different locations across Dubai. The cannons were built in 1945, have a sound range of 170 decibels and can be heard 10km away.


“According to major-general Abdulla Ali Al Gaithi, head of the general department of protective security and emergency, the use of cannons to announce Iftar is a Dubai tradition that actually dates back to the 1960s.

“‘We fire around 200 cartridges across Dubai during Ramadan and Eid from the six cannons,’ he says. ‘Each cannon is fired twice in a row to announce Ramadan, once every day to announce Iftar, twice in a row to announce Eid, and again twice in the morning of Eid, after Eid prayers.’”

Ramadan Begins and Iftar is celebrated in the evenings

Pictured: Ramadan begins and with it Iftar is celebrated in the evenings


Ramadan is also a time when all those who are poorest, or hungry, are looked after.

Whilst non Muslims are not required to fast, it is expected that no one will eat or drink in public during fasting hours. It is also expected that no one will be aggressive, dance or play music in public, wear inappropriate clothing in public or swear.

If you are lucky enough to be invited to Iftar, you should never refuse. Equally, if you are given a present, you should never refuse it.

Ramadan lasts for a full cycle of the Moon, usually around 30 days, at which point  three days of amazing celebrations come called Eid Al-Fitr, the Feast of the Breaking of the Fast. This is a time of family reunions and gift giving. Many children will receive presents during Eid.

Ramadan Begins and so a month of learning, inspiration and celebration across UAE schools

Ramadan Begins and so a month of learning, inspiration and celebration across UAE schools

Ramadan 2024 End Date

End of Ramadan: The end of Ramadan and the beginning of the Eid Al Fitr holiday is expected to fall on Tuesday 9 April or Wednesday 10 April. We do not know definitely yet when Eid will take place – we must all wait for the Moon!

Eid Al Fitr Public Holidays UAE 2024

Eid Al Fitr public holiday: The Eid Al Fitr public holiday is expected to fall on Tuesday 9 – Friday 12th April. Public holidays will be confirmed closer to the time, but it’s likely that UAE residents will enjoy a 6-day long weekend (if you include the regular two-day weekend) from Tuesday 9 April until Sunday 14 April.

All dates are tentative until there is official confirmation.

Working Hours during Ramadan 2024

The UAE’s Federal Authority for Government Human Resources (FAHR) has now confirmed the working hours for the public sector during Ramadan 2024.

The official working hours for ministries and federal authorities will be from 9:00 am to 2:30 pm from Monday to Thursday, and from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon on Friday.

FAHR, however, also confirmed that flexible working and/or remote work can also be implemented if the working hours do not exceed those above. Up to 70% of staff in any public sector organisation can be released to home working at any one time.


Three-week Spring Break for UAE Schools

Ramadan coincides with the Spring Break vacation in 2024, and it has been confirmed by the KHDA and UAE Ministry of Education that Spring Break will be a lengthy three weeks, from Monday 25 March – Sunday 14 April 2024 (inclusive).

This is in contrast to previous years – and in contrast to earlier versions of the 2024 academic calendar – when most UAE private schools had just two weeks for Spring Break.

In previous versions of the academic calendar, most private schools were due to return on 8 April, only for the Eid A Fitr public holiday to fall on 9 April 2024.

Although there has been no public announcement regarding the longer Spring Break for all UAE schools, it is likely it has been altered this year in order to allow for the timing of the Eid Al Fitr public holiday.

Shorter School Hours for Ramadan 2024

UAE schools have announced shorter hours Ramadan 2024, with most choosing the timings based on feedback from their parent community.

Pictured: James McDonald, Principal/CEO, GEMS Wesgreen International School, Sharjah, speaking with in the build-up to Ramadan 2024

James McDonald, Principal/CEO, GEMS Wesgreen International School, Sharjah told SchoolsCompared:

“After carefully considering the needs of our students, parents, and staff at GEMS Wesgreen International School, we have decided on 8.30am to 1.30pm school hours during the Holy month of Ramadan.

“Our goal is to accommodate the fasting period while ensuring that essential learning hours are not compromised, in accordance with local government expectations.”

The length of the UAE school day and the working day (for both private and public sector workers) is generally reduced by two hours throughout the Holy Month.

There has not been a public announcement from the education authorities regarding UAE schools’ Ramadan timings for 2024 yet, but schools are following the pattern that was set during Ramadan last year.

Previously, the Dubai school regulator, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), stated that Dubai’s private schools could be open for a maximum of five hours of instruction time each day and that classes should end by 12pm on Fridays. There is flexibility for schools to decide the exact start and end time within these guidelines, with many institutions choosing to delay the school start time until around 8am or 9am and to bring the end time forward to around 1pm or 2pm. All Ramadan school timings will need to be approved by the relevant emirate’s education authority.

Pictured: Alison Lamb, Principal of Dubai Heights Academy. Ramadan 2024 is seen as an opportunity at DHA to deliver an outstanding education for all DHA students

Changes to school timings can have a big impact on the lives of children and parents, as well as to the traffic around schools during pick up times – something that Alison Lamb, Principal at Dubai Heights Academy, says they took into account when picking their Ramadan timings:

“From Monday to Thursday we will be open to students from 7:55am until 12:45pm.

On Fridays we will be open to students from 7:55am until 11:50am.

“We are keeping our Friday timings the same as how we normally operate and our Monday to Thursday timings were decided based on what worked well for us last year.

“Being on a busy street, we also took into consideration the timings of our neighbouring schools, to reduce the impact of traffic both during drop off and pick up times.”

Pictured: Brett Girven, Principal of Arbor School Dubai.

For Arbor School, it was important to consider a multitude of factors – from the preferences of fasting students and staff, to the practicalities of lesson planning – when it came to choosing their Ramadan timings. Brett Girven, Principal of Arbor School Dubai explained:

“Arbor school will adjust its working hours for staff and students during Ramadan. The day will now begin at 8am and conclude at 1pm, except for Fridays when the school day will end at 12pm for students.

“Parents were surveyed to ascertain their preferences; however, this was not intended to be a vote, it was intended to inform the decision-making process of the school.

“There are a wide variety of complexities that come with making any change and each potential timing that was proposed would impact not only on those who were fasting. It would also impact on how, for example how much learning time students had during a day, logistics such as pick up and drop off and bus timings.

“With that in mind the feedback from parents helped us to make the decision as opposed to being a ‘majority wins’ vote.”

Pictured: Michelle Thomas, Principal and Chief Executive Officer of GEMS Al Barsha National School

GEMS Al Barsha National School will also be adopting a later 8am start for its students over Ramadan. Michelle Thomas, Principal/CEO, GEMS Al Barsha National School clarified:

“At GEMS Al Barsha National School (GNS), our school hours during the holy month of Ramadan are as follows:

From Monday to Thursday:

FS1 to Year 2: 0800-1250 hrs

Year 3 to Year 13: 0800-1310 hrs


FS1 to Year 13: 0720-1100 hrs

“These timings were driven by insights gathered from our parent survey. We considered factors like convenience, alignment with schedules, and optimal learning conditions. By prioritising parent preferences, we crafted a schedule that best meets the needs of our community.”

Changes to School Lessons during Ramadan 2024

Photograph showing the prestigious entrance to Dubai Heights Academy in Dubai

Pictured: Dubai Heights Academy in Dubai – a school that has prepared a sophisticated and caring approach to Ramadan and work required at home which aims to meet the needs of every child and their families.

In 2023 the KHDA advised schools to limit the amount of homework and revision during Ramadan, calling on schools to ensure teachers, students and parents get to spend more time in prayer and with their families.

Although lessons stay largely the same, most schools are trimming them by 10 – 30 minutes per lesson in order to allow for the shortened school day overall. The approach of Alison Lamb, Principal, Dubai Heights Academy, is a good example:

“Despite the shortened school day, we have carefully organised a condensed timetable so that students don’t miss out on any essential learning opportunities. Each lesson has been adjusted from 50 minutes down to 40 minutes to accommodate the new timings yet still ensure there is continuity and maximised learning.”

Break-times are being trimmed to ensure curriculum requirements are met at GEMS Wesgreen International School, Sharjah, says James McDonald, Principal/CEO:

“We have implemented several measures to ensure that the curriculum requirements are met despite the shortened hours. We have shortened the breaks and lessons to optimise instructional time. This adjustment allows us to maintain curriculum coverage without sacrificing any subjects. Additionally, we’ve implemented strategies to maintain a consistent pace of learning, even within the condensed schedule.”

Photograph of the extraordinary frontage to the Arbor School in Dubai showcasing one of the cutting edge biodomes that lie at the heart of the education of its students.

Pictured: The Arbor School Dubai in readiness for Ramadan 2024

It is a fine balance between maintaining a holistic experience for students and retaining the full delivery of the curriculum, says Brett Girven, Principal of Arbor School Dubai:

“The reality is that the day has become several hours shorter and therefore there’s no way to squeeze the same amount of learning into that time.

“This means doing our best to ensure that no one loses for example, their swimming lesson or their geography lesson across the extended period of shortened hours during the holy month of Ramadan.

“The lessons will be redistributed to try to make sure that if they can’t have the same amount of learning every day, at least there is equity amongst students and classes.”

In many schools PE lessons are also being adapted to be gentler or more theory-based to be kinder and more respectful to children who are fasting, while music lessons may also be adapted to be respectful of the traditions that discourage the playing of live music during Ramadan.

UAE School Ramadan Initiatives

With Ramadan being such an important month in the UAE, schools are planning activities to mark the holiness of the time and bring their communities together.

It is a time of great significance for the students and parents at Dubai Heights Academy, says Principal Alison Lamb:

“With a large proportion of our school community being Emirati and/or holding Islamic beliefs, Ramadan has always had significant importance at Dubai Heights Academy and is a special time for us to strengthen our community bonds.

“In the name of inclusivity, we think it is crucial to spread the meaning of the occasion to non-Muslims too, so our whole school comes together to put up decorations and informative displays around campus.

“It is also a time for increased acts of charity and compassion; we make sure that our outdoor Ramadan sharing fridge is always stocked up to support those less fortunate and in need within the local area.

“This year our Student Emirati Islamic Ambassadors are also planning to raise funds for international charity projects and to spread our global outreach. Let’s not forget the much anticipated community Iftar! Previously we have invited our families out to Iftar buffets elsewhere but this year the plan is to host one right here on campus – we’ll bring our own food in to share, watch performances (and participate in some!), win some prizes and simply enjoy our time together as a school community.

“There’s so many exciting things we have in store this Ramadan that we can’t possibly list them all but our students can expect a special Ramadan assembly, a PTA souk, toy day and an art competition to name just a few…”

Ramadan initiatives hold a central position in a year-long calendar of diverse activities that are all part of being an international school, says Brett Girven, Principal of Arbor School Dubai:

“At Arbor we like to recognise a wide range of significant cultural, national or religious events, in particularly those which are significant in terms of living in Arabia and the Middle East.

“As an International School with more than 80 nationalities on site, it’s difficult to ensure that we balance everybody’s world view.

“However, I think our community will acknowledge that we go above and beyond at Arbor to ensure we celebrate all the things that are special about our diverse community, as well as those things which are unique to our mission.

“Arbor School will be running several initiatives during Ramadan, including a Fridge managed by student ambassadors into which community donations are placed which can be accessed by staff and labourers within the nearby community. In the secondary the Gift of Gratitude is an initiative run by staff and students, a community Iftar, and we are busy working on a Ramadan evening bazaar!”

GEMS Al Barsha National School uses Ramadan as an opportunity to highlight the values of compassion, self-reflection and gratitude says Michelle Thomas, Principal/CEO, GEMS Al Barsha National School:

“Ramadan is a month of fasting, spiritual reflection, and communal bonding. During Ramadan, we adjust our schedule to accommodate fasting students, emphasising values like compassion and charity. We engage in community activities like food drives and charity events, fostering a sense of giving back.

“Education during this time includes lessons on Islamic teachings and cultural traditions, helping students deepen their connection to their faith and heritage. Ramadan is a time for our school to reinforce inclusivity, cultural understanding, and spiritual growth, ensuring our Muslim students feel valued and respected.

“We will be running a list of activities, including our community iftar on 17 March, fundraising gatherings for school support staff, daily activities, an invitation to the Red Crescent Society for a special activity for parents to collect clothing donations, and student competitions such as best decoration and best prayer corner. Additionally, our secondary students will prepare a charity dish along with the recipe, plus greeting cards signed by the school will be given to government authorities. We will also have daily notes recording or filming a clip about the students’ daily routine during Ramadan.” 

Are you happy with your school’s Ramadan hours? How are you celebrating Ramadan – and what makes it important and special for you? Please email us with your thoughts and comments at [email protected].

Further Information

You can learn more about Ramadan here. 

© A WhichMedia Group publication. 2024 – 2025. All rights reserved.

About The Author
Jon Westley
Jon Westley is the Editor of and UK. You can email him at jonathanwestley [at]
  • A different thought...
    March 11, 2024 at 1:13 am

    Why you don’t know when Eid takes place? The next new moon falls during 29th roza. So there can’t be a 29-day month Ramadan this year. It will be 30 days automatically because you can’t have 31 days in an Islamic month. Why do we always have to act so backwards as an ummah when it comes to basic science? [Thank you for this comment and your question. There are no easy answers, but I am sure we are not yet certain of the moon – we can never be certain until the moon comes, surely. To claim to know the eventual place of the moon would be to rely on Science, rather than what will be. Ed.]

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