My 3rd post comes to you from a still pre-Ramadan Dubai where, just like everywhere else in the Muslim world, people are awaiting the official announcement marking the start of Ramadan. Ramadan is the 9th and most important month in the Islamic calendar and is forecasted to start around 20th July. The exact start date is dependent on the sighting of the moon and in Dubai the moon sighting committee will meet tomorrow evening to try and spot the crescent moon, which marks the beginning of the Holy Month.

Muslims believe Ramadan to be an auspicious month because it is the month in which the first verses of the Qur’an were revealed to the prophet Muhammad (PBUH). During Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset and generally think of Ramadan as an opportunity to develop their spiritual lives (taqwa). Eating, drinking, smoking, chewing gum, etc, are forbidden in public during fasting hours for everybody (not just Muslims) and life tends to somewhat shift into the night.

In Dubai, Ramadan is a little more relaxed than in other areas in the region. Most hotels and malls have special areas screened off and reserved for non-fasting guests and customers to eat and drink during fasting hours, and business continues albeit it at a reduced pace and with shorter working hours, while shops and parks usually open and close later. In addition, entertainment such as live music is stopped and cinemas limit daytime screenings of films.

I always enjoy Ramadan in Dubai and see it as a special time, even though I’m not a Muslim and do not fast nor work less (the downside of being self employed, perhaps). I particularly enjoy evenings during Ramadan, when people come together for iftar (the daily breaking of the fast at sunset) and friends and families meet over food, juices, and board games. Stories are told, and shisha (waterpipe) is partaken in.

Dubai is such a modern metropolis that it’s often very difficult to find traces of traditional local culture and Ramadan is always a good opportunity to get a glimpse of local customs and traditions. The city’s museums feature special Ramadan art exhibitions and monuments and streets are decorated with lanterns and other Ramadan symbols.

Although Ramadan is not necessarily a month for travelling, hotels in Dubai are vying for guests from neighbouring countries and further afield every Ramadan by offering special discounts to try and shore up business in what would otherwise be a rather quiet time until “Eid”, the festival that marks the end of Ramadan, when the city fills up with travellers from all around the region.

Until my next blog post, “Ramadan Kareem” – A Happy Ramadan!

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About the author

Glion Institute of Higher Education
Glion Institute of Higher Education is a private Swiss institution offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees in hospitality, luxury and event management to an international student body across three campuses in Switzerland and London, UK.
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