In keeping with the spirit of Ramadan - GulfToday

In keeping with the spirit of Ramadan

Birjees Hussain

She has more than 10 years of experience in writing articles on a range of topics including health, beauty, lifestyle, finance, management and Quality Management.

She has more than 10 years of experience in writing articles on a range of topics including health, beauty, lifestyle, finance, management and Quality Management.


The month of Ramadan comes with a complete code of conduct for life.

Everyone likes this time of year. A lot of people get half days at work and then they have a huge holiday to look forward to at the end of the month. You can see it’s Ramadan when some shops open later than usual in the mornings and some don’t open at all, until it’s time for Iftar. Music in shops stops playing and verses of the Quran are played instead.

However, things have changed somewhat in recent years. Some food outlets remain open to cater for non-Muslims and you might have noticed that their shop fronts, where food is usually displayed, are shielded from public view. Large restaurants have either allocated a space in the back where patrons can eat and small food stands have surrounded their food displays with folding Chinese doors.

The United Arab Emirates is a melting pot of religions, nationalities and cultures. Visitors come here all year round. Often people advise visitors to avoid the month of Ramadan because it would be difficult to drink water or eat when they are out and about. However, I would urge people to visit Dubai even during this Holy Month.

I think it’s beneficial for non-Muslims to experience the Islamic traditions during Ramadan. In fact, I have known many non-Muslims from the UK, Canada and America actually ‘have a go’ at fasting. They see the health benefits and often want to see what it’s like not to eat all day. They also feel it’s a great way to get to participate in events with their Muslim colleagues.

However, those tourists who do not do their research before visiting Muslim countries are often caught out. Just yesterday I was in a pizza restaurant picking up Iftar.

It was a long way to go before Iftar time and while I was waiting for my pizza to be cooked a young man came in asking if they were serving food. The waitress said yes but that he would have to eat in a designated area in the back out of sight. He chose salad as a starter and after filling his plate, he began to eat it, facing the window right there and then. Upon seeing him do this the waitress had to ask him to eat in the darkened designated tables in the back of the restaurant.

He seemed offended by the suggestions and said to her ‘be polite’, a very odd thing to say since, in my opinion, she was extremely polite. In any case, he went to the back. It surprised me. He looked like a tourist so one might forgive him for not being familiar with the local laws regarding consuming food in public during Ramadan. However, that being said, he did ask if they were serving food which indicated he might have known.

I came across another incident around 4 years ago. It was rather amusing and again during Ramadan.

There was a small family sitting in a coffee shop in a shopping mall.  It was around 1pm. The shop was closed but they had left their chairs out so everyone, including me, was using them. This family had a small son, around 9 or 10 years old. In order to feed him they put his head and the food under a giant jacket or coat so he could eat out of sight. Every now and again, his head would emerge from under the coat to take air and then dive back under it again to eat some more.

I realise that the family was trying to be respectful to Ramadan by not letting him eat in public but it was pretty obvious what he was doing. We could smell the food! I found it rather innovative and very funny.

All jokes aside, here are a couple of very simple guidelines for non-Muslims so that they avoid offending those who are fasting. No smoking or drinking is permitted in the open. Some restaurants, not all, are still serving food during Ramadan but you would need to buy it and take it home to eat it, unless the restaurant has a designated private eating area. If you are at work, your employer will have allocated a designated eating area. So you can still take your packed lunch and restaurants will still deliver to your office. Happy Ramadan.


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