Ramadan in the UAE. Part 3: What does Ramadan mean for me? Ramadan is the most important time of the year for Muslims. Its a time of reflection, being with your loved ones and of renewing your faith. Islam is
Dubais official religion, meaning that the city transforms during the season, affording everyone living or visiting a once-in-a-lifetime cultural experience. Ramadan spreads the spirit of giving and sharing, promotes cross-cultural understanding, and enlightens residents and visitors from non-Muslim communities on the Islamic and Emirati way of life.
Peace and quiet reigns during the day, with stores being emptier than usual and restaurants remaining closed. At night however, the city comes alive with fun activities designed to bring families and friends together. Before we continue, discuss the meaning of these words; Compassion
Gratitude Tolerance Charity Etiquette Tolerant though it is, Ramadan serves as healthy reminder that Dubai remains a predominantly Muslim city.
As such, it is vital to understand the rules of public conduct during the Holy Month. Here are some essential dos and donts to steer you in the right direction. But remember, Muslim or not, all can appreciate the overarching themes this month, that of of tolerance, compassion, gratitude and above all charity. I am not a Muslim, can I eat and drink during the day?
People are expected to refrain from eating, drinking and chewing gum in public during the fasting hours. You are allowed to eat and drink in private and companies are required to provide an eating room away from those who are fasting. If you need to have a drink or meal away from home, some restaurants and cafes will still be open during daylight hours, but normally only for take away or delivery. Some
will also have their windows covered. Do children fast as well? Children do not fast until around the age of 11/12 when their bodies are more able to cope with the lack of food and drink during daylight hours. Even then, they might not fast for the whole day but part of the day so they can gradually build up to whole days.
Younger children are allowed to eat in public but it is seen as good manners to be quite discreet when giving them something to eat or drink. Can a non-muslim go to an Iftar dinner? Yes! If you are lucky enough to be invited by an Emirati to dine at their home for an Iftar (the evening meal at sunset when Muslims break their daily fast), its polite to accept - and a
wonderful way to experience authentic Emirati culture. Be sure to bring along a box of dates! There are also many Iftar tents and Iftar meal deals in restaurants around the city. Be sure to try one if you can many serve traditional Emirati food as well as international dishes. Some other points to remember; DO - Say Ramadan kareem to your Muslim friends
- Dress conservatively (dont wear tight or revealing clothes) - Be patient with friends who might be fasting. During the first week they may be grumpy and tired. - Use headphones if you have to listen to music (loud music in public, even in your car, is seen as quite rude during Ramadan) So relax, enjoy this time of the year make the best of it for yourself
with Iftars and different foods. Ramadan is a month in which all of us should reach out to each other and exercise a show of humanity and tolerance towards one another.
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