Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Ramadan Kareem!

Ramadan began yesterday – a month long religious event which is celebrated across the Middle East. Some official information on it is below. How this translates into day to day ife is fascinating, we cannot eat or drink in public, this means even in the car, no water, no snacks, nothing.

Most of my office is fasting during the day, so our office hours are reduced from 10 -4. Interesting how the non-fasting non-Muslims all skedaddle out of the door at 4 m – I am still sat here as usual at 7 pm each night.

Muslims break their fast at about 635 pm each evening – this is called Iftar and most hotels hold amazing Iftar buffets each night.

On the first night of Ramadan I went to a colleagues house for the most delicious Egyptian food ever, and I have obviously offered myself as available to attend any other such events. It’s important to experience the true culture of my host country, after all. Yum!

  • Ramadan is a time when Muslims refrain from eating during daylight hours as an act of sacrifice that reminds them of the challenges of the poor.

  • It is a time for generosity of spirit and a period when family ties are renewed and enhanced.Non-Muslims are not required to follow Islamic practices during Ramadan, but there are customs and regulations that should be observed by everybody.

  • Non-Muslims are expected to respect the Muslim Ramadan practices by not eating, drinking, or smoking in front of Muslims or in any public place in the UAE during daylight hours. Transgressions can be fined.I

  • ndependent eating establishments will not open until sunset; many stay open into the early morning hours.

  • Most hotels will serve food in a location not in the public view during the daylight hours.Some hotels will not serve liquor during the month of Ramadan, but most in Dubai will serve alcohol after 7.00pm. Live music is not permitted and you will find that many bars and restaurants are more low-key than usual. Obviously brunches stop for the month.

  • As an alternative, you may wish to go to an Iftar buffet. These are laid on by hotels, although strictly speaking it is the meal for breaking fast in the evening.

  • Driving during the late afternoon and early evening is best avoided if at all possible. Traffic is very heavy as people try rush to get home for Iftar and can be even more erratic than usual.

  • Women especially, should consider their attire during Ramadan. Skimpy clothing should not be worn at any time, but extra consideration should be given to our Muslim hosts during Ramadan.

  • Business hours will be adjusted in consideration of Ramadan and the work hours are typically reduced. If you need to conduct any business during Ramadan, it would be wise to call in advance to verify the adjusted business hours. In the work environment, you may find it more difficult to schedule meetings.

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