5 Intercultural Business Tips for the Holy Month of Ramadan 2024

Approximate 2024 U.S. Ramadan dates: the evening of Sunday, March 10, until the evening of
Tuesday, April 9
This May, Muslims worldwide share in fasting, festive dinners, and faith. Ramadan is crucial
to Islam, so we share key information that will be helpful when conducting business with
Muslim counterparts or traveling abroad

1. The General Fasting Process
Fasting during Ramadan is crucial. The point of which is to increase understanding and
sympathy for those less fortunate. During this time, Muslims fast for eleven to sixteen hours a
day. Typically, fasting begins around dawn and ends at sunset. To prepare and begin their
fast, Muslims usually eat breakfast at before dawn, pray, and bless their fast. For the rest of the
day, they refrain from eating, drinking, and smoking.

2. Activities during Ramadan
Speaking kindly and thinking positively of others and the world is a recommended Ramadan
practice. If you are conducting business overseas or spending time with a Muslim friend
observing Ramadan, keep that in mind. Work hours are decreased during the month of
Ramadan in many Muslim countries. Additionally, the purpose of Ramadan is to increase
religious awareness and be more observant of God, so Muslims do a number of things to self-
reflect and pay respects to the religion. For example, giving extra charity, or Zakaat, is a
common act of kindness during Ramadan.

3. Ramadan across Borders
In many Islamic countries, there are laws pertaining to the month of Ramadan. If you are
living abroad or traveling for a business trip in a Muslim country, it is important to be
respectful of those rules. For example, some countries, like the United Arab Emirates, have
strict Ramadan laws and expect all citizens, residents, and expats to dress modestly and
refrain from eating and drinking in public. So, if you are traveling abroad during this holy
month, particularly in the Middle East or North Africa, be sure to understand the laws around
Ramadan. Ask around and make sure you have the proper information.

4. Considerations for Prayer Times
Praying five times a day on a regular basis and during Ramadan are equally as important.
Here are five prayers that take place throughout the day on a regular schedule.
1)   Fajr- the prayer at dawn
2)   Dhuhr- the prayer at noon                                                                                                                                                                              3)   Asr- the prayer in the afternoon
4)   Maghrib- the prayer at sunset
5)   Isha’a- the prayer at night
If you are living or traveling abroad in Muslim cities or countries, like Dubai, it is common for
the Azaan, or call to prayer, to be recited over a loudspeaker five times a day. Many Muslims
follow the five prayers’ schedule. At these times of day, Muslims may step out to pray.
Schedule business meetings to avoid disrupting regimented prayer times.

5. Iftar: Breaking the Fast
Finally, Muslims break their fast in the evening at sunset. Currently, Muslims invite friends
and family to break the fast. It is a festive occasion celebrated with food. If you are invited to a
coworker’s Iftar, it is common to bring a food gift of dates, or a dish for the host. Friends and
family reflect on their fast and respectfully eat dinner. Festive foods change regionally;
however, date fruits hold religious and cultural importance for Iftar!
Ramadan builds spiritual awareness as a happy and special occasion. Understanding how
Muslims celebrate this holy month is integral to understanding a key part of the Islamic faith.
Respect, altruism, and joy are all characteristics of Ramadan, where Muslims can come
together and respect the faith and practice. With proper knowledge about Ramadan, we can be
respectful of these customs and practices. Ramadan Kareem to all!



Sharon Schweitzer JD, is a diversity and inclusion consultant, cross-cultural trainer, etiquette expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre, she is an attorney and mediator. Sharon served as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business,  Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, won a coveted Kirkus Star, and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books. She’s a winner of numerous awards, including the British Airways International Trade Award at the Greater Austin Business Awards.

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Sophia Syed was a Spring 2017 cross-cultural communication intern with Access to Culture.
As a third-culture kid who has lived abroad in Dubai, Jamaica, and Singapore, she interacted
with different nationalities in both professional and personal settings. She was a Dubai
student representative for the Global Issues Network Conference in Luxembourg in the Spring
of 2015, where she discussed economic, environmental, and human rights issues with
representatives of 70 countries. A graduate from the University of Texas at Austin with a
double major in Corporate Communication and Communication Sciences, she is employed as a
Research Assistant at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston.