Ramadan 2021

Ramadan 2021: Away from family, expat in UAE finds comfort in traditions

suneeti@khaleejtimes.com Filed on April 15, 2021
Sharmina Najeeb

A laboratory manager at Al Ghurair University, Sharmina Najeeb says she feels safe living in the UAE amid the pandemic

For someone who has been fasting for over 15 years, and always had the company of loved ones at the time of Suhoor and Iftar, observing Ramadan alone this year is somewhat unusual and difficult. Sharmina Najeeb, a UAE resident for over 20 years, is missing the company of her family who moved to India last year.

“Until last year, I had my parents and son with me here, but they are in India now. I cannot wait to be with them soon, Eid perhaps,” said Sharmina, a laboratory manager at Al Ghurair University.

“My son also fasts, he is eight, and he loves chicken cutlets. Even though he isn’t here with me this time, I am making it for Iftar.”

Sharmina and her family would usually have five to six dishes for Iftar, including ghee rice and mutton curry, which are among her son’s favourites. “We also have two types of juices, one hot drink, some fruits, water, one fried dish like a samosa or chicken cutlet, nuts, and dosa, or appam.

“This time, I am having a simple and healthy Iftar,” said Sharmina, as she took water and a date to end her fast in the evening.

On the table, she has laid chicken cutlets, fruits, juices, and two kinds of sweets. “I have decided to go light on my meals this time. The sweets are for you,” she said.

Sharmina is an electronics and communication systems engineer. She did her primary schooling in Dubai before heading to India for high school and undergraduate studies. She later returned to Dubai to do her master’s in engineering management from Al Ghurair University. After her studies, she joined the university as a laboratory manager and loves every minute of her time spent there.

“My job involves interacting with young students. The engineering graduates have inquisitive minds and they are excited about technology. They are always trying to build, invent and discover new ways of doing things, which makes our job very interesting as well. I keep an eye on the inventories, too, and am responsible for the overall upkeep of the laboratories.”

She is at the university by 9am and home by four, in time to take some rest and light exercise before Iftar.

“This is not like usual Ramadans because of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is not safe to have large gatherings and invite people over.

“I am grateful for being in this city. It feels safe here and I am able to continue working from college. I am also grateful for the health and wellbeing of my family back home. It is all about counting your blessings, not just during the holy month, but always,” Sharmina said, as I signed off wishing her well.



Suneeti Ahuja Kohli

Suneeti Ahuja-Kohli has been in Dubai long enough to call it her spiritual home. She loves to travel but plans to settle down in Koi Samui, Thailand eventually to spend her sunset years by the sea. For now, she writes frequently on personal finance, retirement planning, business news and features, health and almost anything assigned by her editor. Her sojourns can be followed on instagram (suneetiahujakohli), news and views on Twitter @suneetiahuja, and for the rest, there’s a Facebook account.

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These prayer timings are for Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman. For Abu Dhabi, add four minutes. Deduct four minutes for Ras Al Khaimah and Umm Al Quwain, and six minutes for Fujairah.

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