By Sumaiyya Naseem
Are you a newbie in Jeddah and not sure what to expect for Ramadan?! Don’t know anything about Ramadan here?! This is your guide! During your first few weeks in town, you were probably surprised by the rich and active city life.
Most newbies who I’ve personally met have expressed to me that what they’ve found and experienced when they first arrived to Jeddah was so far from what they had expected.
If it is your first time experiencing Ramadan in Jeddah, then there are a few things you’ll have to learn in order to fit in and avoid culture shock. If you’re unsure about the people and the lifestyle, don’t worry! You’ve come to one of the most hospitable and exciting cities!
So, most people who no longer live in Jeddah long for experiencing its Ramadan once again. What makes it so special, unique and exciting?..
Here’s what you should be expecting:
Reduced Working Hours: Fasting can be really taxing, on both the mind and body, especially for those who are new to it; so taking into consideration the millions who fast, the working hours are reduced by approx. 2 hours. Companies may opt to either start late or close early.
Crazy Shopping Hours: If you love shopping, avoid hitting the malls during daytime. Most supermarkets and grocery stores open later in the day. The safest time to shop is in the evening, after the night prayers.
“Closed for Prayer”: The law requires all businesses (shops, pharmacies, malls, and so on) to close during prayer times, five times a day. However, this rule is not just for Ramadan, and it applies all through the year, so don’t forget to carefully plan your shopping trips accordingly.
Traffic Troubles: Do your best to stay focused while driving because the traffic gets pretty bad during rush hours in Ramadan. After a long day of fasting, it is easy to lose patience on the road and feel aggravated. It is, nevertheless, important to be patient and remember that good and controlled behaviour is the essence of Ramadan. If you’re a Non-Muslim who doesn’t fast, then try to understand the situation and learn to forgive if someone is driving impatiently or honking too much.
Book your flights: Ramadan and Hajj are two of the busiest times in the Hijri year, with hundreds and thousands of people visiting the country or leaving it. If you are planning a vacation during the Eid holiday, then book your flights in advance because it can get really difficult to find seats on good airlines.
Invites to Iftar: Muslims love a good Iftar feast, and we enjoy it even more with great company. You are likely to receive many Iftar invites and what you should do is accept them. There is no better way to understand a culture than by interacting in a relaxed social environment. If you’re a Non-Muslim and you receive an invite, then avail this opportunity to know more about Ramadan and the Muslim lifestyle.
The Don’ts of Ramadan:
- Do not eat in public because it is considered offensive and is punishable by law.
Do not plan lunch meetings or parties at work. Also avoid late afternoon meetings because people may be too tired to focus.
Do not freak out if there is no activity on the streets in the morning, especially on Friday. It is not an apocalypse; people are just catching up on their sleep.
Do not drive fast when it is time for the night prayers. People often park their cars and walk to the mosques with children, and it is thus more likely that driving fast would cause accidents.
The Dos of Ramadan:
Wish people ‘Ramadan Kareem’ or ‘Ramadan Mubarak’ when you see them at the start of Ramadan. Muslims love it and really appreciate it.
Understand Ramadan by talking to your colleagues or Muslim friends about it if you’re Non-Muslim.
Exploit the fabulous Ramadan offers in supermarkets and Eid sales at the mall. You can stock up your pantry with all the awesome deals.
Enjoy the mouth-watering buffets for Suhoor and Iftar at fine dining restaurants.
Be adventurous and try local varieties of food, especially at Iftar parties.
Get involved in the community by volunteering in food distributions programs. You could also supply Iftar meals to mosques where the underprivileged gather to break their fast. Suggestion: Youth Initiative Group
Visit after the Taraweeh prayer to enjoy ethnic food and the Ramadan festivities.