Britain and the United States have issued special travel warnings for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins next Monday, and even chewing gum may be a problem for tourists.
“All Mission employees and family members are advised to exercise extra vigilance and avoid large crowds during the upcoming month of Ramadan,” advised the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem.”
The British Foreign Office told its citizens to be sensitive to Muslim customs during Ramadan and singled out the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as a target for terrorists.
“You should be aware that levels of observance of Ramadan will vary in different countries and cultures, but most Muslims will conform to some extent with the requirements of the fast - that they fast between dawn and sunset,” The Foreign Office stated,
“This means they can’t eat, drink, smoke or even chew gum during daylight hours. Muslims use this time of abstention for prayer, contemplation and charitable work.”
However, Ramadan does not stop terrorists – and may even encourage them.
The U.S. State Department said there is a high potential for revenge of the death of al-Qaida founder Osama bin Laden in May. It advised to take "extreme caution" when traveling by sea near the Horn of Africa or in the southern Red Sea "as there has been a notable increase in armed attacks, robberies and kidnappings for ransom by pirates."
Britain warned that “there is a high threat from terrorism” in the UAE, which attracts one million British citizens every year. “We believe terrorists may be planning to carry out attacks in the UAE,” the Foreign Office said.
It also warned women to “take care when walking or travelling alone and use a reputable taxi company, particularly at night…. Drink spiking, known to be used in date rape, can also happen. Consular staff have noted an increase of drink spiking in night clubs in Dubai, resulting in sexual assaults on both men and women. Do not accept drinks from strangers or leave drinks unattended, including non-alcoholic drinks. When in pubs and clubs, stay with your friends and avoid getting separated in the crowd.”
Driving also can be a problem because, in the Foreign Office’s words, “Driving standards in the UAE are not always as disciplined as those in the UK and the corresponding rate of traffic accidents is significantly higher.” A United Nations agency has reported that the likelihood of being killed in traffic accidents in the UAE is seven times higher than in Britain.