Ramadan through the eyes of non-Muslim in Dubai

Ramadan through the eyes of non-Muslim in Dubai

Dubai - Dubai has been wonderful in allowing those not fasting to still be able to manage their daily lives.


Kelly Clarke

Published: Sun 27 May 2018, 12:22 PM

Last updated: Sun 27 May 2018, 2:26 PM

 Before moving to Dubai 20 years ago, American-Lebanese expatriate Jennifer Chalouhi had heard of the word Ramadan, but she never really had a clear understanding of the meaning behind it. "I was living in the US and I didn't have much knowledge about Ramadan. I only knew it was a Holy Month of fasting for Muslims," she told Khaleej Times.
But now, marking her eighteenth Ramadan in the UAE, her perception has changed and so to has her respect for those observing the month. "After living in Dubai for over two decades now, Ramadan is a beautiful time of fasting, being mindful of those less fortunate and giving back to the community by any means possible. My perception of Ramadan now is peace, love, centering oneself and spending most time with family, friends and loved ones."  Landing up in Dubai in the late 1990s, she said her first impression of the month-long religious tradition was a little difficult to adjust to at first.
Moving from a country where the fast was observed by only the minority, she quickly realised how serious Ramadan was taken in Dubai - a city with a Muslim-majority population. "There were rules to abide by and my aim was not to offend the locals or those fasting by any means."
She said remembering not to eat or drink in public took a lot of adjusting to and there were times when she accidentally took a sip of water openly in public. "But after being here for 20 years it's no longer an issue for me. I automatically adjust and remember to be respectful of this Holy Month, especially during the fasting hours and when I am out in public." In a city with a such a diverse mix of nationalities, the fitness trainer said apart from no eating or drinking in public, not much changes during her daily routine.
"My training routine is never really impacted during Ramadan. Dubai has been wonderful in allowing those not fasting to still be able to manage their daily lives. It's that perfect balance of respecting one another's traditions." Although Chalouhi said she doesn't abstain from any food or drink herself to mark the Holy Month, she tries not to eat or drink around those fasting out of respect - even if in designated areas. 
Like many throughout the Holy Month, the quiet Ramadan days are most often intercepted by way of a loud and joyous gathering in the evening to break fast. And being a long term resident of Dubai, the Iftar experience has become part and parcel of Chalouhi's routine throughout the month of Ramadan. She has opened fast with many friends of many different nationalities including Emiratis. But one thing that has struck her is the similarities of each experience. Although the cuisine may differ from country to country, the meaning behind the moment shared during Suhoor and Iftar always stays the same.  "It's a time of gathering amongst friends, celebrating the break of their fast and a time of being thankful and grateful for life, family and friends." 

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