As Ramadan is now more than halfway done, I’ve noticed that the mood and atmosphere of Dubai has taken a noticeable shift, becoming more solemn, quieter, and more introspective.
From a journalist’s perspective, things seem completely dead. My e-mail — which is normally constantly inundated with all sorts of Press releases, event invitations and responses to questions — has slowed to a tiny trickle of incoming messages, all of which seem to be Ramadan-related. My phone, which constantly rings with calls from PR people, now lays silent, and has become a noiseless artifact I carry around in my pocket.
There’s probably a combination of factors that causes this change. One aspect of Ramadan I hadn’t known, until a reader informed me, is that Ramadan is broken down into three separate parts: the days of Mercy (days 1-10), the days of Forgiveness (11-20) and the very special last ten nights, during which time the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) spent in continual worship.
From a non-Muslim viewpoint, it seems that many believers spend more and more time looking inward and reflecting as Ramadan goes on, which will culminate in those very important last ten nights.
It seems that the cumulative effects of fasting and a drastically changed schedule are bringing things to a standstill. In the beginning of the month, of course, people are still well-rested, and there was a sense of excitement and novelty to Ramadan being back. Now, people seem more reserved, more exhausted, and more focused on the spiritual and religious aspects of the holy month.
The first few days of Ramadan I was shocked to see how many non-Muslim, Western expats, seemed to be unaware of Ramadan, and the need to follow a few simple guidelines to respect our Muslim hosts. Thankfully, this seems to have dissipated considerably as Ramadan goes on. I (almost) no longer see scantily-clad foreigners strutting around Marina Mall, and I no longer see mischievous men attempting to sneak a quick smoke in dark corners outside buildings. Hopefully, this means they’ve come to understand the need to go along with Ramadan traditions, rather than simply the fear of getting into trouble.
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