Ramadan is a big time for shopping, as thousands of people head to malls to take advantage of Ramadan deals at local stores and malls or rush to events such as the Ramadan Shopping Soiree in Abu Dhabi or the upcoming Ramadan Night Market in Dubai. From an outsider’s perspective, this seems to go against the general spirit of the holy month.
On one hand, I understand that many people will be shopping for loved ones with Eid in mind. On the other hand, it really does seem as if some people are shopping compulsively, falling victim to impulse buying.
For example, I was quite surprised yesterday to see an Emirati family — a father, mother, and three small children — all carrying multiple shopping bags from expensive, designer stores in the mall. A few minutes later I saw them again, but this time they were split up, with the mother inspecting handbags and the man perusing a selection of exceedingly expensive watches at a store. Given Ramadan’s spirit of temperance and self-control, I was left thinking that such excess seems misplaced, even in a city of excess like Dubai.
I haven’t seen any firm statistics concerning UAE Ramadan shopping habits, but I would not at all be surprised to find that many well-heeled Muslim families end up spending significantly on consumer products over the course of the month. One statistic I saw, however, suggested that across the Mena region, 60 per cent of people spend more money than they would otherwise, many of which, I’m guessing, are in the UAE or elsewhere in the Arabian Gulf.
On another note, I’m a bit disappointed to see how little coverage Ramadan gets in international English-language news outlets. It is, after all, observed by over a billion people worldwide, not only in majority Muslim countries of the Middle East, Africa and Asia, but also by Muslim and diaspora communities elsewhere, such as Indonesia, the country with the world’s largest Muslim population.
I didn’t even see the start of Ramadan mentioned by any of the major international broadcasters. If they did, it must have been buried deep in the newscast. In a sad sign of the times, a quick look at some Western news outlets today suggested that Ramadan’s only significance was that Daesh had called on followers to conduct more attacks this month.
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