DUBAI- ‘Ramadan in Dubai’ stands out as a highly anticipated period for several expatriates, for it offers them a surplus of moments of togetherness with friends and family, an insightful window into the customs and traditions of an age-old culture, and the opportunity to embrace the spirit of giving by sharing some of their blessings with others, in addition to the relaxed festive atmosphere, a fun-filled calendar of events and rewarding shopping sprees at numerous malls.
With Dubai being home to a large population of expatriates, ‘Ramadan in Dubai’ seamlessly transforms itself into a unique occasion that touches the lives of both Muslims and non-Muslims in more ways than one.
It captures the essence of all the common values that define the social structure of almost every culture around the world.
The traditions of sharing with and donating to the less fortunate, the customs of enjoying downtime with family and friends, and most importantly, finding some precious moments of calm away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, are just a few of the pleasant facets of life in Dubai that people look forward to and cherish during Ramadan.
“Ramadan is a very significant month for a non-Muslim as well. It demonstrates the spirit of giving, caring and also reminds us of our strong family values. I contribute towards arranging an Iftar in the mosque located in my building. I also ensure that my family and I adhere to the traditions of the Holy Month,” says Amitabh Vyas, an HR professional who has been working in Dubai for over 16 years.
“The Iftar gatherings are something I look forward to each day. Apart from that, I do enjoy the reduced working hours and lesser traffic on the roads in the evenings. My fondest memory of Ramadan is when some of my Muslim and non-Muslim friends got together to break their fast during this month. It is also commendable to see how people who fast all day long, begin to appreciate the value of food.”
From elaborate menus embellishing the tables of countless eateries in every nook and corner of the emirate during Suhour to the humble sights of the large group Iftar gatherings that come to life at every mosque after dusk each day – this is a season that bonds people of diverse origins together and reminds them of the simplest and indisputably the lasting joys of life.
“In my opinion, Ramadan changes the lives of all the people in the country. For the non-Muslims, it begins with the reduced working hours. Although these hours are intended for those who are fasting, they also play a role in the lives of the non-Muslims as well. With more hours in hand, non-Muslims get the opportunity to nurture their relationships with friends and family. I also join my Muslim friends for Iftar gatherings, which is my favorite part of Ramadan. I consider myself lucky enough to be sharing this tradition with their family members too. It is a great opportunity to meet new people and learn about their cultures,” says Olya Karpowa, a Russian national studying in Dubai.
“My favorite memory of Ramadan is when one of my Muslim friends invited me for an Iftar dinner with his family members. I was amazed at their hospitality and how warmly and openly they welcomed everyone into their home,” Olya adds.
Widely known as a melting pot of cultures, Dubai also becomes a unique platform of cultural-exchange during Ramadan – offering its diverse populace the opportunity to nurture stronger ties of friendship with one another and to learn more about the local cultural norms.
“My best friend breaks his fast at work. He is always sharing his Iftar meals with me. I love the delicacies that I get to enjoy with him. I also admire the fact that Muslims fast so they would understand the plight of the underprivileged better. Lastly, I look forward to the countless shopping offers that are rolled out during this month,” says Tushara Jayasinghe, a Sri Lankan expat working in the hospitality sector in Dubai.
Samira Ledra, a Graphic Designer from Brazil, says: “I have learned a lot about Ramadan after coming to Dubai. For example, I was not really aware of the fasting hours, the Iftar and Suhour gatherings or even the prayer timings before I arrived here. I do enjoy the reduced working hours. I find Ramadan to be a very pleasant month. I live besides a mosque and I admire people’s dedication and commitment towards praying five times a day, which includes the peak heat hours.”