Happy Ramadan everyone! رمضان كريم و مبارك على الكل
No matter where I go in the world, I like to come back to Saudi for the month of Ramadan to spend it with my family. I tried it twice in Arizona and once in Manchester. Those experiences nearly killed me! It's just not the same. So, I made it a point to always return for it. Maybe I will stay in the UK when it becomes a winter Ramadan! If you are not familiar with Ramadan, please check the post below this one:
Ramadan is special in Saudi for many reasons. I highlighted 15!
One: The month of Ramadan is a family month and since a lot of Saudis are enrolled in the scholarship program abroad, mostly everyone returns home at the same time. It's like a big reunion month for the country!
Two: Before the month starts within few days, all the supermarkets go CRAZY busy! It's like no one ever bought food before. Some people top up three big carts. It's shocking and very wasteful.
Three: Not everyone wastes, some people buy huge amounts because they cook and share it with the neighbours! That's one of my favourite traditions about the month. Close by neighbours and extended family, send dishes to each other just before the sunset prayer!
Four: Saudis -ones who are on vacation- flip night and day. Actually, I like this. It's funny how random non muslims who never ever fasted object to this and think it defeats the purpose and that's just because we have to fast we have to suffer not knowing that even sleep is considered worship in Ramadan! WIN WIN. The good thing is not only individuals do this, the whole country does! including shops and restaurants.
Five. Restaurants are closed during the day because the whole country isn't allowed to eat in public including non muslims. SO! they make up for it by opening from sunset to dawn! I love going out for a late dinner (AKA suhoor or sahari) at 1am!
Six. Shops and markets stay open late till after midnight. They are allowed to be open during the day, but since most people do not wake up/or finish work before 3pm, they don't bother.
Seven. After iftar, people start going out and the streets turns to mania! It's like the new rush hour.
Eight. Work and school times change in Saudi for the month of Ramadan. For school and governmental sector jobs it's from 10am to 3pm with a vacation in the last ten days and a week for Eid. Sadly, private sector don't get all these perks. They get Eid break. Luckily, this year Ramadan is during the summer holidays!
Nine. The poor people who are working during the month (in banks or in hospital) are easily irritated and they make you feel like no one ever fasted before them!
Ten. Most summer programs will take a break during Ramadan.
Eleven. The Iftar table usually consists of soup, salad, one extra appetizer, main dish usually something with rice and of course desert! Obviously, everyone end up eating a bite of each and feeling super full! The rest usually ends up getting eaten through out the night or as the later meal that's before dawn prayer.
Twelve. There are two drinks that you will find on almost all Saudi tables this Ramadan! Vimto and Tang. I don't know how this started, but they have been on the tables since before I was born regardless of how unhealthy they are!
Thirteen. For some odd reason, all TV producers have conspired to turn the Month of Ramadan from a worship month into a big TV month, where all Arabian drama start! People get really hooked on the shows timing their whole days around them.
Fourteen. Thankfully, many mosques and Islamic centres try to lessen the affect of TV and keep trying to hold night programs with informative lectures, prayers and recommended worship! These kind of things really bring back the spirituality of the month!
Fifteen. The Saudi cities are decorated with lights and colourful banners to welcome the month!
Hope this brought a smile to your face and inshallah this month will be wonderful for us all and full of good deeds and reflections
Note: Of course this doesn't apply to everyone, so please don't get offended. The purpose of this blog is to know more about the GCC culture.
Note: These things are shared among the rest of the Arab world in general and the Arabian Gulf in particular.