Top 5 Things to Remember During Ramadan in Riyadh

I’ve already been through 6 Ramadans in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia but for some reason, I always forget some things that are necessary during this month. As a non-Muslim, there are changes that do not become second nature to me during Ramadan. For example, I am still not aware of the operating hours of some business like the banks and the supermarkets. What time do they open again?!? Or do the restaurants close during the isha’a prayer or do they remain open once they open for iftar?! Yup, 6 years in the Kingdom and I can’t still seem to remember. And I always grasp for the answers when Ramadan already starts. Typical. 
In order to remember all these things, I decided to write about them so come next Ramadan, I will not forget. Sheesh, I should’ve written this 5 Ramadans ago! Anyway, here are things you need to remember during Ramadan:
Most expats in Saudi Arabia already know this. And in case you’re new or you forgot… don’t worry, every year, the newspapers remind you of it. Like this news article from Arab News that says Non-Muslims told not to eat in public during Ramadan. Yup, NEWS… is this something new? I nearly rolled my eyes and exclaimed, “I know that! Don’t we know that?!?” There is a huge penalty if caught eating/drinking/smoking in public. You lose your job and get deported. Many expats, especially us non-Muslims respect the holy month of Ramadan and the sacrifices that our Muslim brothers and sisters do for this month. I honestly believe that if there will be someone caught doing this, it’s only because they unconsciously forgot or are ignorant about the rule (probably because he/she is new) and not because they want to disrespect anyone. So deportation is a bit harsh for a punishment don’t you think? Anyway, again DO NOT EAT, DRINK, AND SMOKE IN PUBLIC DURING RAMADAN. Also, don’t play loud music.

In consideration to our Muslim brothers and sisters who are fasting, the working hours in both government and private companies and institutions are reduced, mostly by 2 hours. Some companies will start their working hours late or some might end theirs early. Some gives a general schedule that includes all employees but some companies and hospitals will opt that non-Muslims retain the normal working hours. So don’t be surprised if the roads on your way to work on Ramadan mornings are empty and it’s chaotic when you go home in the afternoon.

During regular days, you will not see King Fahd Road as empty and clean as this.


“What time does (name of shop) open during Ramadan?” This is one of the most popular questions asked during Ramadan. Honestly, I just want to shrug all these questions off or answer ‘I don’t know!’ Because like I said, I tend to forget what happened last Ramadan (except number 1, I don’t forget that). Anyway, I also want to know. So I researched and came up with this list of popular stores/business centers and their operating hours.
Carrefour – 10:30AM to 2:00AM (they close during the prayer times)
Jarir Bookstore – Depends per store so the schedule is quite long to put in this entry. Check it HERE.
IKEA – Saturday to Thursday (12:30PM to 5:00PM and 9:00PM to 3:00AM) | Friday (9:00PM to 3:00AM

Malls – 9:00PM to 2:00AM
Banks – Varies depending on banks. But most are open from 10:00AM to Asr prayer.
Alrajhi Bank (10:00AM – 3:30PM)
Saudi Hollandi Bank (10:00AM – 4:00PM)
Banque Saudi Fransi (10:00AM – 4:00PM)
Enjaz – Saturday to Thursday (10:00AM – 4:00PM and 9:00PM to 12:00 midnight) | Friday (9:00PM to 12:00 midnight)


Most restaurants are closed during the day. The maghreb prayer signals the breaking of the fast during the Ramadan so instead of closing, the restaurants are opening at this time. Some restaurants are already open 30 minutes to 1 hour before the maghreb prayer to accommodate customers for iftar. Restaurants also closed during the isha prayer but most of them will let customers stay inside to eat. They open again after the isha and are open until midnight or the wee hours of the morning for suhoor.

Here is the table of the prayer times in Riyadh during Ramadan.

Taken from Islamic Finder

I looked at Muslim Pro, the iphone app I used to check prayer times, for comparison and the only difference is around 1-2 minutes on some of the timings above. So who knows who’s that accurate?!

I used Arabic terminologies in the entry and you’re probably thinking ‘wut?!’ so here goes some terminologies that you’ll mainly encounter during Ramadan.

Ramadan – The ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. For this year, it will run from June 29 to July 26.
Imzak – Start of the fasting time. It begins when the first light of dawn becomes visible.
Fajr – The dawn call to prayer; usually imzak begins a few minutes before the fajr.
Suhoor – The meal eaten before the start of fasting.
Iftar – Breaking of the fast immediately after sunset. It takes place at maghreb prayer as soon as the Adhan (call to prayer) is called.
Sawm – The Arabic word for fast.
Eid Al Fitr – A three-day celebration that marks the end of Ramadan and the starts of Shawwal, the tenth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. This year, it will probably start on July 30, 2014.

So there you go. I hope that I cleared up some confusion whenever Ramadan comes around. To our Muslim brothers and sisters, we hope that Allah accept your sacrifices and good deeds. Ramadan Kareem!

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  1. Travis Reply

    I’m curious if anyone knows when the Batha and Kuwaiti Souqs are open.

    • Janelle Reply

      Stores in Batha are open around 10:00AM and closes during prayer times. Most stores are closed around 5:00PM and open around 9:00PM, after the isha’a prayer. 🙂

  2. Haitham Reply

    Just a minor correction, Imsak and Fajr are one and the same, there’s no “few minutes difference. We fast from the time of fajr, and Imsak literally means to stop or hold.

    Fajr time due – athan – stop eating.

  3. JD Reply

    Curious to know if King Khaled Int. Airport Lounge will be open during the fasting times

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