Ramadan through the eyes of a non-Muslim -Day 18

Ramadan through the eyes of a non-Muslim -Day 18

Selling toy guns during Ramadan seems insensitive at a time when so many Muslims are suffering from wars and societal breakdowns.

By Bernd Debusmann Jr./senior Reporter

Published: Sun 5 Jul 2015, 11:44 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:19 PM

Ramadan Night Market. -File photo

Last night, I took a stroll through the Ramadan Night Market at the World Trade Centre. It was exactly as I expected it to be, and perhaps the closest thing to what I imagined Ramadan in Dubai would be like before I arrived in the UAE just over six months ago.

As a reporter, my duties take me to the World Trade Centre very often. Some weeks it feels like a second office when I cover expos and conventions. I could probably find my way around the WTC blindfolded by now.

During the night market, however, the exhibitors’ booths are replaced by food stalls and small shops.

Every item I can imagine is on sale, ranging from jewelry and expensive clothing to travel packages to Sri Lanka, driving classes, and even handwriting analysis tests, a practice which I’d never even heard of before. The market takes on a very pleasant — albeit quite crowded — atmosphere as throngs of families from all around the globe converge to shop, reinforcing my view of Dubai as a truly international city, and of Ramadan as a special time in which families spend time together.

One item on sale, however, bothered me considerably.

As I walked around, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a young Emirati boy holding what appeared to be a miniature toy AK-47 assault rifle, playfully pointing it at his brother, the gun emitting the familiar rat-a-tat-tat sound of automatic gunfire, the barrel glowing with red lights. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that several other small imitation weapons were on sale.

It strikes me as quite tasteless to sell a toy rifle during the holy month, especially while thousands of Muslim children — in Aleppo or Ramadi or Aden, for example — are spending their Ramadan living with the very real possibility of being shot by actual AK-47s.

When Eid comes along, children in the UAE will be receiving sweets and gifts, while many Syrian, Iraqi and Yemeni children will be struggling to survive.   This warrants a moment of thought. Young boys will always want to play with toy guns.  That’s natural, and has always been the case, and probably always will be. I imagine the vendor selling these toys is doing well at the Ramadan market.

But Ramadan is a time to reflect and for Muslims to come together as a community, which, I’ve noticed, is very much evident in the UAE.

 Selling such a toy during Ramadan seems insensitive at a time when so many Muslims are suffering from wars and societal breakdowns.  Some people in the UAE see Ramadan as a great business opportunity. Some, I think, take it too far. -bernd@khaleejtimes.com

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