In a difficult time when people need to come together, Ramadan unites a variety of communities especially in a cosmopolitan country like the UAE. We hear from popular blogger Arwa from Slice of Dubai on her personal take of the spiritual month of Ramadan and her connection with the city of Dubai.
Ramadan is a special time for us as it not only allows us time for cleansing our body and soul, but also gives us an opportunity to introspect and feel closer to God.
Hailing from Mumbai, India which is a mixed bag of several religions, I’m used to Ramadan being like any other month of the year. Work carried on as usual and being a practicing Muslim, there were times I would eat Iftar at my work desk, resuming routine thereafter. Also there were days when I would skip team lunches because I was fasting, while my colleagues were busy chomping off generous morsels of food right in front of my eyes. The only thing that happens differently in Mumbai during Ramadan is the fact that street vendors are seen openly cooking aromatic delicacies in preparation to appease the fasting crowd. Having said that, you can now imagine the cultural shock I got when I spent my first Ramadan in Dubai, 3 years ago. Ramadan in UAE is so different from back home!
While we worked full time while fasting, UAE residents were granted shorter working hours. While food vendors made it a point to showcase their wares back home, in the UAE I saw how eating and drinking was discouraged in cars, streets and public places. Even restaurants are advised to lower their shutters and serve patrons in private. All this as a mark of respect for the fasting population. In the UAE, streets come alive with lights during Ramadan right from the time of Iftar to dawn, soothing the early risers who wake up for Suhoor and morning prayers. Gifting friends, family and folks back home is made easy on the pocket with different promotions and Night Markets to fit every budget. Several donation drives come to the forefront and regular residents play good Samaritans by filling up fridges for the needy. These initiatives in the UAE instill a sense of spirituality and generosity across the non-Muslim and expat population. It is not unusual to see them organizing donation drives or avoiding food and drink during fasting hours or joining Iftars.
I truly believe this is what makes Ramadan in the UAE stand out – the way in which the spirit of prayer, giving and cheer percolates inside the soul of each of its residents. It is a place that I now proudly call ‘home’.
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