x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Sharjah Police thank residents for not eating openly during Ramadan

Anyone caught breaking the rule, which applies across the UAE, faces a month in prison and a fine of Dh2,000 as per the country's federal laws.

SHARJAH // Police in Sharjah have thanked residents and tourists for respecting the strict law banning eating, drinking or smoking in public during daylight hours throughout Ramadan.

Anyone caught breaking the rule, which applies across the UAE, faces a month in prison and a fine of Dh2,000 as per the country's federal laws.

"Federal law 313 of 1987 punishes anyone who eats in the open in Ramadan," said Col Sultan Abdullah Al Khayal, the director of Media and Public Relations at Sharjah Police.

"Eating or drinking during the day in the holy month is out of personal freedoms as it violates the sanctity of the holy month in a Muslim country and the authorities have been kind to warn everyone against it," said Col Al Khayal.

"Whether a person is a Muslim or not, this is a law to respect and don't cross its boundaries."

Col Al Khayal said police have been reaching out to residents and tourists on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to get the message across.

However, officers in Sharjah have not arrested anyone so far this Ramadan, and Col Al Khayal has extended his gratitude to the public for abiding by the rules.

Restaurants and cafeterias in Sharjah remain closed throughout the day during Ramadan, although a few grocery stores are open as usual.

Most residents welcome the law as a way of respecting not only the holy month but the UAE as a whole.

"Every country has its own laws and cultures and once you are a visitor you simply have to respect and abide by these laws," said Osama Ahmed, who lives in Sharjah city.

Under the law, anyone who sells or gives food or drink to a person who is then caught consuming it in public can also be punished.

"This could be done either by a person or a shop. For the case of a shop that sells foods or drinks and then sees the person eating them near them in public, the shop would be closed," said Col Al Khayal.

"The Ministry of Interior also has a local regulation authorising the municipalities of each emirate to close any shop whether it is a grocery, cafeteria or restaurant that facilitates eating or drinking while people are fasting."

The owners also face a Dh2,000 fine and one month in jail, he added.

ykakande@thenational.ae