Covid-19: UAE residents get ready for safe Ramadan

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Dubai - With the holy month set to begin in weeks, authorities across the UAE have issued several regulations so residents stay safe from the virus.

By Team KT

Published: Sat 27 Mar 2021, 9:04 PM

As Muslims around the world prepare to mark the second socially distanced Ramadan amid Covid-19 this year, UAE residents have already begun preparations in line with safety rules.

With the holy month set to begin in weeks, authorities across the UAE have issued several regulations so residents stay safe from the virus. Unlike last year when residents had to spend Ramadan inside their homes, mosques will remain open this time and will host the special Taraweeh prayers.

Gatherings, particularly for Iftar, remain strictly prohibited. In Dubai, the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department (IACAD) has already cancelled all permits for Ramadan tents. Restaurants are prohibited from distributing Iftar meals inside or in front of their premises, and associations that will be handing out food at workers’ complexes must coordinate with the management and ensure social distancing. Only members of the same family living in the same house can share meals, and exchaging gifts must be avoided.

For residents, getting ready for the holy month under such circumstances wouldn’t take much of an adjustment because, as they said, they have already “gotten used to the new normal”. Since many citizens and expatriates continue to work from home, Ramadan traditions such as Iftar and Suhoor have become an intimate family affair.

“This is the second year in a row we are having a stay-home Ramadan. I believe it has its benefits. We are not hosting lavish Iftars and Suhoors, and they have become strictly family affairs,” said Khalid Habib, a Pakistani expat who works at an IT company.

His wife Maham added: “I agree with Khalid. It is our immediate family, and we are not indulging in very big Iftar parties and focused on prayers and learning. Our children are learning the true spirit of the holy month.”

Khwala AlNuaimi, an Emirati student, said she and her family are looking forward to spending quality time. “Ramadan and Eid Al Fitr have always been a strictly family affair. Now, it is even more so because we do not indulge in any large Iftars and Suhoor. Also, my family is mostly working from home, so we are once again looking forward to spending a lot of time together.”

She hoped everyone in the country would continue to keep their guards up amid the pandemic. “Even though the vaccination drive is ongoing and the numbers are on the decline, that does not mean we should use this as an excuse to throw caution to the wind,” AlNuaimi said.

Skip Haq Al Laila this year, residents urged

UAE officials have asked residents to avoid celebrating Haq Al Laila this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) urged residents to forgo celebrations this year unless they are within the same household.

Haq Al Laila is usually celebrated in the middle of the Islamic month of Sha’ban, the month that precedes Ramadan. It falls two weeks before the holy month.

Children usually visit Emirati neighbourhoods with the message “Aatona Allah Yutikom, Bait Makkah Yudikum”, which in Arabic means “Give us and Allah will reward you and help you visit the House of Allah in Makkah.”

Children are given sweets as they go around singing.

“As mid-Shaaban approaches, we advise community members not to hold gatherings to celebrate Haq Al Layla. Public health is a priority and a social responsibility; community solidarity is an indispensable necessity. Observance of instructions is a national duty that guarantees safety and leads to recovery,” the authority said on Twitter.

However, the NCEMA said family members living in the single household could celebrate.

Vulnerable groups, such as the elderly or people with chronic diseases or disabilities, have been asked to avoid gatherings of all kinds.

“If around this category of people, please wear face masks and maintain physical distance. Also, refrain from distributing sweets and gifts to non-family members,” the authority said.

In 2020, Dr Farida Al Hosani, the spokesperson for the UAE health sector, had said, “Having our children go out and to other people’s homes and share food is not safe right now.

“For the safety of everyone, we should avoid exchanging gifts and sweets.”

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