Ramadan 2021

Ramadan in UAE: Surviving Covid helped this expat grow spiritually

Ashwani Kumar /Dubai
ashwani@khaleejtimes.com Filed on May 5, 2021
Supplied photo

Battling the virus has inspired me to cherish this month more and be thankful, says Kareem.

Fighting Covid-19 infection last Ramadan, and now being able to pray at a mosque in the holy month, has made me spiritual, appreciative and strong, a Dubai pharmacist said.

Mohammed Abdul Kareem, a 28-year-old India expat, recounting his first Ramadan in the UAE in 2016, said: “It was my first Ramadan away from my parents and brother. Back in Hyderabad, my mother would ensure a healthy diet. But I was alone in Dubai. It was a new world with managing work,” said Kareem, unit in-charge, Aster Pharmacy, Al Barsha South.

He said he would often call up his mother to learn new cooking skills and recipes, especially for iftar. “Slowly I started preparing dishes. I make Hyderabadi kheema (minced meat) and khichdi (dish made of rice and lentils), rice and chapati. I add yoghurt to the diet and also a lot of fibrous food and fruit salad,” he said.

Over the years, Kareem has worked in different shifts and mostly ends his fast while at the pharmacy. However, this is the first Ramadan where he gets to close his day early.

Kareem says his iftar is simple with fruit and water. “I will have watermelon, banana, yoghurt and dates before I go for prayers. I ensure a good sleep as I have to be focused at work. Patients, mostly infected ones, reach out to us with their queries. I deal with a lot of phone calls, and at times, we have to explain the same thing to many people. We need to have a lot of patience,” he said.

The pandemic situation has transformed the 28-year-old into a stronger individual. “Last Ramadan I was diagnosed Covid-19 positive.

Due to quarantine norms and sickness, I wasn’t able to observe fasting. Surviving through that period has inspired me to cherish this month even more and be thankful for what I am today and help people get through this,” he said.

Kareem is also among the many expats who have a loved one affected by the second wave of coronavirus infections in India. “My father is suffering from post-Covid complications. There are no hospitals available for admissions. The injections, medications and care are done at home. Almost all homes in our area have a Covid-infected person. I have seen people in Dubai with strong willpower crumble after losing their loved ones back home. We have to pray for India,” he said, adding that availability of vaccines in the UAE has given him new hope.

“This time around we could go to a mosque and spiritually motivate ourselves and others. Vaccine is a big relief and is helping people recover mentally as there is hope for things to get better and a return to normalcy.”



Ashwani Kumar

I am a newspaperman from the emirate of Abu Dhabi. A journalist at heart. I get my stories from the streets. A south Indian born in the Hindi heartland, I easily connect with people from different nationalities and cultures. I am calm like a monk, sensitive and very patient reporter. On the ground, I cover a range of topics related to community, health, embassy, tourism, transport, business and sports. I will go out on a leg to do what’s right and stand by what I believe in.

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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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