On May 15-16, Muslims in Qatar and elsewhere in the world will begin their month-long celebration of Ramadan. The end of the month of Ramadan, marked by Eid-el-Fitr celebrations, will take place between June 14-16. Though practices can vary by country, businesses, restaurants, and government administrations may operate on a reduced schedule during this holy month.
Transportation disruptions are to be anticipated during this period due to an increased number of travelers, especially in airports. Heavy traffic after sundown (particularly on weekends) is to be anticipated as Muslims typically gather to celebrate the holy month with family. Furthermore, traffic accidents tend to increase during Ramadan (especially at dusk) due to a combination of exhaustion, hunger, dehydration, and impatience.
Local authorities typically report a heightened terrorism threat during the month of Ramadan, and increased security measures should be expected in major urban areas.
Ramadan is a period of reflection and self-restraint and it carries great significance within the Muslim calendar. Muslims traditionally observe daytime fasting and are called to practice increased devotion and abstain from certain activities.
The high number of expats in Qatar (particularly Westerners), in addition to the government's growing involvement in regional political affairs, increases the chance that the country could be targeted in a terror attack. However, Qatar's counterterrorism unit has proven effective, since the last major attack against civilians occurred in 2005.
More generally, this period marks a significant increase in the regional terror threat in many Muslim-majority countries across the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. In recent years, Islamic State (IS), as well as other groups, have called on their fighters to perpetrate attacks during the holy month of Ramadan. On June 26, 2015, IS fighters killed 39 people in an attack targeting Sousse, Tunisia. The same day, a similar attack also claimed by IS targeted a Mosque during Friday's noon prayers in Kuwait City, killing 27 people. On June 21, 2016, members of Jordan’s security forces were killed in a car bomb. In Lebanon, a series of suicide attacks killed six people. In Turkey, on the evening of June 28, 2016, an attack carried out by three gunmen/suicide bombers was perpetrated at Istanbul-Atatürk International Airport (IST), leaving 44 people dead and scores more injured.
It is advised not to eat, drink, or smoke in public throughout this period. Travelers are also advised to allow additional time for travel and to avoid any form of public demonstration or public gathering.
Travelers advised to remain aware of their surroundings and to report any suspicious behavior, especially considering the increased terrorist risk.