If you're involved in global mobility and the process of moving talent around the world, then you are likely always trying to properly set expectations and stay on top of anything that could impact the timing of someone's relocation or assignment. Employees and hiring managers are often unaware of the various things that can (and do) impact the relocation process.
Holidays can cause delays due to interruption in needed services like immigration, destination services and shipments of personal belongings. It might be helpful to keep this calendar handy as you move through the year trying to keep track of holidays around the world.
And think fast because the Islamic month of Ramadan is just around the corner! Per this article, when Ramadan actually starts changes every year. It is determined by the first confirmed sighting of the new moon – but there is a little controversy about when it starts, with different countries observing it on different days. Ramadan is expected to begin around May 16, causing processing slowdowns with government agencies (impacting immigration and local registrations primarily) and unavailable service support (like destination service providers, household good shippers, cultural and language trainers, etc.) as offices in countries with majority or significant Muslim populations will curtail their working hours. In the UK, Ramadan this year begins on 15 May and finishes on 14 June.
The Sharjah Center for Astronomy and Space Sciences said the length of the fast is likely to be 13 hours and 25 minutes at the beginning of Ramadan, increasing to 13 hours and 42 minutes by the end of the holy month. This will be the first time in 18 years that the fasting period will be longer at the end than in the beginning, because Ramadan 2018 will happen before the summer solstice, or the longest day of the year.
Countries with the largest Muslim populations include Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Kuwait, Jordan, Bahrain, Iraq, Yemen, Qatar, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Egypt, Turkey and Iran. Working hours also vary by country and government offices tend to close early. The Eid al-Fitr holiday, immediately following Ramadan, will close offices for three or more days in countries across the Middle East, North and West Africa, and Central and Southeast Asia. Our friends at Berry Appleman & Leiden (BAL) suggest that businesses and travelers should plan ahead and file time-sensitive applications as soon as possible to avoid unnecessary delays. Those in need of services should check with individual offices for Ramadan hours when the holiday draws closer.
In many Muslim countries, visitors are expected to abide by the restrictions of Ramadan, at least in public, meaning no eating, drinking, chewing gum or smoking during the day. The UK Foreign Office says non-Muslims should show respect to those who are fasting and pay attention so as not to offend Islamic values. It also warns that in some countries "if you demonstrate culturally insensitive behaviour that offends, you could be arrested". Loud music and dancing is considered disrespectful during Ramadan and some restaurants will close or amend their opening hours. Travellers are advised to stock up on food in their hotel room, unless they want to rise early for a big pre-dawn breakfast and stay up late to break the fast. The Foreign Office even warns that driving "may be more erratic than usual, particularly during the later afternoon and early evening", and tells travellers to be patient and show tolerance during this time. “Take extra care about your clothing during the holy month,” it adds. “Ensure you dress modestly as standards may be policed even more carefully than usual.”