As many of you will know when the calendar rolled past June 6 2016, the Holy Month of Ramadan started. As we celebrate this important month here in the Emirates, it made me wonder: what do people outside of this culture, country and region know about this time of the year?
Well, I thought people may find it interesting to hear my experience of Ramadan to garner a little insight into life here in the Emirates for a non-Muslim during the Holy Month. This is not meant to be a religious description. I am neither qualified to comment, nor is immaclife a source of theological reference. No; rather this just meant to be a little snapshot of life and of my experience during this important month.
First, a little background of what Ramadan is. The UAE is a Muslim country. During the 30 days starting 6 June (which changes each year based on the Lunar calendar), those observing Ramadan will refrain from consuming any food and drink during daylight hours. The fast is broken each day at the stroke of sunset with the Iftar meal. Ramadan concludes after 30 days with the three day Eid Al Fitr holiday, which is a time of celebration.
We decided out of respect for the culture in which we live we would also fast as a family, for one day. My son choose Sunday as our day to fast. This meant waking at around 3.45am for a pre-dawn semiconscious family bite to eat and a splash of water. We then woke again at the usual 6am time to start our day, sans food and water. And I am pleased to report that we made it through the fast, a little weary, very hungry but in excellent spirits....and that is all while having had 3 clients personal training at the gym, a day at school and a full day at the office; that's obvio all 3 of us by the way.
It is an interesting thing, the fast. The absence of food over a prolonged period makes you reflect on the lot of those who do not have any, and to be grateful for what we have. And that is a very good thing.
One of the many lovely things about Ramadan here in the Emirates is that the hotels offer amazing Iftar meals during Ramadan. On Sunday night we enjoyed a family Iftar at the Ritz-Carlton here in Abu Dhabi. The atmosphere was serene, the hotel beautiful and the food excellent.
So, what does it mean for us? Ramadan for us is a time of family and reflection. The country quietens for the month. The usual events and occasions pause. With that pause is a great opportunity for us to spend time together as a family. To reflect and to enjoy the best of the wonderful cultures that we share in this place we call home.
Ramadan Kareem (generous Ramadan, in English) to all.