Today marks the official start of Ramada, the fasting period before Eid. It is similar to Lent before Easter, but a lot stricter. No water or food is to be ingested between certain hours (as decided by the moon), the fast is broken with a meal called Iftar. This meal tends to be shared with family and close friends and is a very important ritual. No alcohol is to be consumed, people shouldn’t smoke and should refrain from thinking any kind of impure thoughts.
Ramadan has a big impact on life in the U.A.E. For instance most places cease to serve lunch and trying to get a coffee can become somewhat of a challenge as most places are shut. Also you can not get alcohol during the day. Come 7pm though everywhere is back up and running and you can drink to your hearts content, if you’re not observing Ramadan of course.
Working life also changes, I will be working two hours less for the duration of Ramadan. This time will of course be devoted to yet more driving lessons! Not everyone gets reduced working hours so I feel very lucky to get them.
People are encouraged to respect Ramadan. For instance you should refrain from eating or drinking in public. This extends to your car as well! In my office we make it common practice to check if anyone in the room is observing Ramadan and if they are then we check if they mind if anyone drinks water. As yet I have never heard of anyone saying that someone can’t drink water in front of them, but if they did I would definitely respect that. Our canteen remains open so that we can have lunch, but it was noticably emptier today.
Day one has quite a nice feeling to it…but by the middle I imagine tempers may start to fray as people get tired. This is my first full Ramadan, I moved in the middle of the last one so I am curious to see how it feels.
If you know of anyone observing Ramadan you can wish them ‘Ramadan Kareem’. For those of you observing Ramadan ‘Ramadan Kareem’ from me to you, may you indeed enjoy a blessed time with friends and family.