Rendezvous during Ramadan

As the holy month of Ramadan starts on September 1, malls, hotels and supermarkets are all geared up for the occasion, coming out with special offers and promotions. However, the escalating prices are posing difficulties for people, many of whom are finding it hard to meet the additional expenses.

By Afshan Ahmed And Dhanusha Gokulan

Published: Sat 30 Aug 2008, 11:52 PM

Last updated: Tue 31 Jan 2023, 8:14 AM

Sonia Shuaib, a resident of Sharjah, feels even the discounts aren’t helping. “Prices of basic items like rice and oil have almost doubled since the last Ramadan,” she rues.

Pakistani expat Amna Shahid, employee of a real estate company in Karama, says, “On an average we spend around Dh4,000-5,000 on grocery during the month of Ramadan.”

Usman Iqbal, a native of Pakistan who works and resides in Dubai, says, “We spend nearly Dh4,000- 6,000 during the holy month.We are a family of six.We also invite our friends and relatives. The rising prices have affected our pockets and we doing most of the shopping from Union Co-Operative stores, because of the lower prices.”

Zainab Hasham, another housewife, does get perturbed by these issues, but says, “If you have the devotion, nothing is impossible.”

The other crucial factor to take care of in the month of Ramadan is health, as the faithful keep away from food and drink from dawn to dusk. According to Nafisa Ahmed, a nutritionist at Al Zulekha Hospital, Dubai, fasting is good for health but one needs to be cautious to reap its benefits. “A balanced diet improves blood cholesterol profile, reduces gastric acidity, and prevents constipation and other digestive problems. Those keeping fasts should avoid consuming junk or oily food during Iftar or Sahur.”

For families, it’s a time to look forward to homely delights they can avail themselves of, courtesy the promotions and discounts offered at major supermarket chains.

Some of these supermarket chains are offering basic commodities, such as rice and oil, in promotions.

Those who like to eat outside can head for an evening of scrumptious Iftar and Sahur buffets at Dubai’s leading hotels.

UAE being a melting pot of cultures, non-Muslims too can adapt to Ramadan to experience spiritual cleansing. While the restrictions on eating and drinking in public and closure of restaurants during the day may be inconvenient for some, most believe there is a need to respect and preserve the sanctity of the month.

Says Prince Verma, a property consultant residing in Dubai, “I have a lot of respect for my Muslim friends who observe fasting. Their dedication to the purpose is very commendable.”

During the month, the Sharjah Cultural Department will host Islamic lectures by renowned scholars to create an awareness about the values of the religion. Ramadan is a time to spiritually reconnect.

Matters such as heat, inflation or traffic that keep irking people all the time do not seem to bother those who keep fasting as they seek forgiveness from God.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Economy will be taking stricter measures this year to ensure stability of prices during the holy month.

Traditional delights at hotels

Hotels in Dubai have their chefs making exquisite items this Ramadan with a dash of Arab traditions. While some of the hotels are setting up Majlis for guests, others are offering people a venue to socialise the Arab style at Jhaimaís (traditional Arabic tents) set up in a number of places in Dubai.

Hotels are also offering corporate and group Iftar and Sahur with menus available in a variety of stunning locations. Also on the menus of the hotels is the traditional Arabic cuisine. Union Coop cuts prices by 25pc: (List of products and prices as shown in table)

Time to set up the tents

Both public and private organisation in the UAE are taking initiative to set up tents to keep alive the age old spirit of Ramadan. But lesser number of Emiratis seem to be taking personal initiatives to set up Ramadan tents.

Ahmad (real name withheld on request), a UAE national, told Khaleej Times, “Ever since my childhood, I have seen my father and grandfather setting up tents for Ramadan for our family and friends who come for Iftar and Suhoor. But it has been quite a while since we last set up a Ramadan tent, mainly because it is time consuming and also because people now prefer to go to the tents set up by private and government organizations.”

An official of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing said, “We are setting up two huge tents, one in Al Twar Area and another one in Al Qusais. The tent in Al Twar will have Islamic sermons and speeches by GCC scholars. The tent located in Al Qusais will be for Iftar. The main purpose of setting up the tents is to keep alive the old tradition of Ramadan, and to spread religious knowledge.”

Dubai Press Club has also planned to set up several Majlis, where prominent personalities will be conducting discussions with the media on various issues.

The discussions will begin after the Iftarf. Nada Ibrahim, an Arab expatriate who works in Dubai, told Khaleej Times, “Some of my relatives did set up a tent last year. But the practice of setting up Ramadan tents is gradually fading out.”

Super-discounts, Promotions

Retail outlets and supermarkets all over the UAE are offering Ramadan promotions to customers. Hypermarkets and supermarkets like Carrefour, Al Maya Lals, Choithram, Union Co-Operative stores, and Lulu are among those offering promotional prices during Ramadan.

Ibrahim Abdullah Al Bahar of the Union Cooperative Society said they would be selling some of the essential items at 25 per cent discount during the holy month. Salim M.A, the regional director of Lulu, told Khaleej Times: “We are offering discount on 32 items, including rice, oil, dates, and other food items.We also have promotions on cream caramels, custard powders, jelly, fruits, and vegetables.”

Manoj Thanwani, the director of Choithram chain of supermarkets, said, “In accordance with the Ministry of Economy we are offering discounted prices and cross promotion campaigns, wherein the consumer has a large choice.

“Ramadan is observed by non- Muslim communities in the UAE as well, as they host Iftar events for their friends and families. So we have planned picnics and late night events at our stores,” said Thanwani.

Carrefour, too, is offering a large range of promotions.

More news from UAE