Ramadan Kareem

West Bay in Doha, Qatar

I'm back in Qatar this week.  It's extremely hot (averaging 46 degrees C every day this week), and Ramadan is in full flow, meaning it's pretty quiet out there.  The ninth month in the Islamic lunar calendar, during Ramadan Muslims all over the world abstain from food, drink and various other activities during daylight hours.  The fasting allows time to purify the soul, focus attention on God and practice self sacrifice.  Muslims are also required to share their wealth and give to charity during the month, although interestingly it seems some spend big on themselves before the start of Ramadan too.

Ramadan Iftar tent at Downtown Dubai
Iftar at the Downtown Dubai tent
Although practiced by Muslims, Ramadan has an impact on everyone working and living in Islamic countries.  Restaurants and cafes are closed during the day, any food and drink consumed by non-Muslims must be in private (doing so in public is a punishable offence), and our working hours are shorter - typically 36 hours a week instead of 45.  It's an interesting time of year and one in which you really feel immersed in the culture of living in an Islamic country.  I have great respect for anyone who can last the day without any water or food, and do a few hours hours of work on top of that.  It must be especially difficult at the moment with Ramadan falling in the summer months.  The Islamic lunar calendar months start when the first crescent of the new moon is sighted, and the calendar itself is 10 to 11 days shorter than the usual Gregorian calendar.  Therefore the Islamic months move slightly each year.  Ramadan in 2022, the year of the Qatar World Cup, will start on or around April 2nd.

Ramadan Iftar tent at Downtown DubaiMuslims break their fast each day at sunset with the Iftar meal.  Iftars are held each night and are usually cause for a celebration, with families and friends gathering to eat together.  Many hotels across the Gulf host Iftar meals, often in large traditional tents.  We attended one in the Downtown Dubai tent at the weekend which was a great event - and this year with the added benefit of the World Cup quarter finals being screened as well!  The meals are typically buffets and traditionally start with dates to break the fast, with plenty of shisha smoked after abstaining during the day.

Ramadan ends after the sighting of the moon to mark the beginning of the next month, and the start of Eid al-Fitr, which is an important holiday marking the end of the month of fasting.  We usually get two or three days holiday in the private sector (the public sector get a week or more!), following which normal service is usually resumed - working hours and business generally get back to normal.

West Bay, Doha, Qatar at nightSo back to work in Qatar...  I've done a few trips back here over the last couple of months, and this could be the last for a while, although I'm sure I said that a while ago.  At least with reduced Ramadan hours I can get an earlier flight back to Dubai and start the the weekend a bit earlier this week... 
West Bay, Doha, Qatar at night
West Bay in Qatar by night
Location: Diplomatic Area, Doha, Qatar
Ramadan 3254389344443832589

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