It’s official. The Holy month of Ramadan started yesterday, Friday July 20th, in the UAE. Ramadan commemorates Allah sending the Archangel Jibril (Gabriel) to the Prophet(Mohammad) to convey to him the first verses of the Quran. Every Muslim, except for a few exceptions, are required to fast. Fasting begins from dawn until dusk. It is meant to humble oneself, increase moral discipline and serves as a reminder of those less fortunate. It also has many health benefits such as detoxing the body as the energy usually used for digestion is diverted toward metabolism and the immune system. Fasters should also abstain from drinks, including water, chewing gum and sexual activities during fasting hours. Every Muslim is also required to give Zakat Al Fitr, a set amount of money, to charity at the end of Ramadan to be used to help those less fortunate to buy new clothes and food so they can celebrate Eid. Families and friends get together over iftar (the meal eaten after sunset) and suhour (the meal taken before sunrise). After Ramadan ends, there is a 3 day festival called Eid Al Fitr (festival of breaking the fast).
What does this mean for us? Well it is illegal to eat, drink or chew in gum in public. It is also advised to dress more conservatively and public displays of affection are frowned upon. At work we will have to eat and drink in a designated, enclosed area. In my office they have frosted the glass in the cafeteria so you cannot see inside. You are not allowed to eat or drink at your desk and you must conceal your food from others view. A lot of restaurants are also closed during the day so it can be difficult to find lunch. Ramadan Kareem!