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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Eight things to know about Ramadan in Qatar – 2015 edition

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

During the 29-30 days of Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, observant Muslims fast from dawn to sunset. As a Muslim country, Qatar departs significantly from its regular programming during this time.

For those who have never experienced Ramadan here (and for those in need of a refresher), here are some key things to know:

1. The sun and the moon matter a lot more

Because the Islamic calendar is lunar, we won’t know for sure when fasting begins until the new moon is sighted. This year, the first day of fasting was on Thursday, June 18.

New moon
New moon

Once Ramadan begins, those who are fasting will abstain from food, water, smoking and sexual activity from dawn to sunset. The month will end with the sighting of the next new moon, and a days-long celebration called Eid Al Fitr (festival of fast-breaking) around July 17.

2. Schedules change dramatically

Whether you’re Muslim or not, Qatar law mandates shortened workdays for residents during Ramadan.

For the private sector, that means six hours a day instead of eight. Government ministries and other public institutions operate five hours a day, from 9am to 2pm.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

However, business continues as usual in some workplaces. In this instance, employees are typically entitled to overtime compensation.

3. There’s no eating/drinking in public

It’s illegal in Qatar to consume food, drink beverages or chew gum in public spaces during Ramadan, and violators can be fined for doing so (though usually they’re just warned).

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Due to this, most restaurants and coffee shops here are closed during lunchtime, though some do offer takeaway menus. In terms of eating at work, some employers are more strict than others.

Many Muslims don’t mind if those who aren’t fasting (non-Muslims and Muslims who are ill, or women who are pregnant or menstruating) consume food or drink beverages in front of them.

Others may take offense, and in those offices co-workers may be asked to take their meals in one designated spot (a lunchroom, for example). Some employees may decide to wait until they get home to eat, which could be easier due to the shortened work hours.

4. It’s going to be a hot month

Qatar’s summer is expected to be hotter and last longer than usual this year, thanks to the return of the climate pattern known as El Niño.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

This will likely pose a challenge for those who are fasting, as the days are expected to last more than 15 hours during the first third of the month.

Taking into account the shortened hours, the hot weather and long days, it’s likely that productivity will drop significantly during Ramadan. So if you have important government paperwork to sort out, you may want to try to get it done before next week.

5. It’s a spiritual time

Many Muslims will tell you that Ramadan makes them more introspective, as people with empty stomachs tend to reflect more and move closer to God because they aren’t as distracted by worldly things.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Due to shortened work hours and the more relaxed days, many residents will also increase their nightly prayers in mosques, especially during the last 10 days of Ramadan.

Altruism also increases during this month, with people donating more to charity. Families and companies also sponsor charity iftaar tents that offer free meals to those who need them (whether they are fasting or not).

And each year, Hyatt Plaza holds a fast-a-thon for non-Muslims who want to try not eating and drinking all day. During the event, in which participants get a free dinner, the mall typically contributes a few hundred riyals per fasting person to charity. Stay tuned for more details on this.

6. But also a very social month

In addition to feeding the soul, Ramadan in Qatar is also a very sociable time in which residents regularly go out to dine at restaurants that offer lavish buffets, or to visit friends and families holding dinner parties.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Especially during the second half of the month, when schools are out, expect traffic on the roads to be light during the days and very heavy at night (8pm to midnight), when people go out to shop, eat and run errands.

And keep an eye out for special activities – Katara Cultural Village, Aspire Zone and other venues frequently host special recreational and educational programs during Ramadan.

7. Qatar goes dry for 30 days

The only place to buy alcohol for home consumption – the Qatar Distribution Center – is closed for the month (expect long lines outside the warehouse this weekend). Hotel restaurants also stop selling booze during this time.

Photo for illustrative purposes only
Photo for illustrative purposes only

The taps will start to flow again after the first day of Eid, which is typically celebrated for three days. There are also usually no new releases in movie theaters until Eid.

8. There are unique traditions

Every country marks the holy month differently.

Ramadan cannon 2014
Ramadan cannon 2014

In Qatar, there are a few unique traditions that are observed each year, including:

  • Sunset cannon: Each day during Ramadan, a cannon is fired off at sunset to signify that it’s time to break the fast. This takes place at the state mosque near TV Roundabout, and there’s also a cannon in the Old Airport area. Residents usually gather around to witness the (loud) spectacle, and authorities sometimes pass out water and snacks. The tradition seems particularly popular with kids.
  • Garangao celebrations: Various venues usually host special activities for children on the 14th of Ramadan to mark Garangao, which is kind of like Halloween without the ghouls and goblins. Across the Gulf, kids typically dress up in traditional clothes and knock on neighbors’ doors to receive nuts and candy, while singing a special Garangao song.
  • Corniche car parade: Every year, young Qatari men gather daily in Ramadan for about an hour before sunset to showcase their best vehicles – from Lamborghinis to Maseratis, to vintage Patrols and Land Cruisers. Police presence on the Corniche at this time is heavy, and officers usually block off several turning lanes for traffic coming into West Bay – though lanes remain open for those heading out of the downtown area.

What would you add to this list? Thoughts?

63 COMMENTS

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MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago

Just a few points of clarifications.

“Taking into account the shortened hours, the hot weather and long days, it’s likely that productivity will drop significantly during Ramadan. So if you have important government paperwork to sort out, you may want to try to get it done before next week.”

No you are too late now, already people are in Ramadan mode and you will hear, ‘after Eid, inshalla’ for all but the most basic requests. Most people in government are not interested in any work now.

“Because the Islamic calendar is lunar, we won’t know for sure when fasting begins until the new moon is sighted”

Not true. It is a very nice cultural tradition but we know exactly when Ramadan starts because we know exactly the position of the moon since before Islam even started. Ramadan starts 18 June.

Ramadan is actually a fun month even for non-muslims, expect more parties at your friends house and ironically more drinking even though the bars and QDC are shut for a month. Also expect the layoffs at company’s to cease during this month as it is not seen as the correct thing to do during the Holy Month.

Have fun and I’ll see you on the other side…..

Michkey
Michkey
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

It’s true that many Arab astronomers were able to predict the exact lunar activity from the time before Islam as well as after, but watching the moonrise with naked eye gives much more of a sense of occasion than looking at the bloody chart! It’s about a festival, not a NASA conference!

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago
Reply to  Michkey

Yes it’s a cultural tradition as I said and a nice one but we don’t have to pretend that we don’t know the facts!

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

The moon-sighting versus calculating thing is a matter of long-standing debate. The point is, in Qatar, they look for the moon before declaring whether it’s Ramadan/Eid.

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago
Reply to  ShabinaKhatri

It’s not a debate! Qatar and other GCC countries have cultural traditions which is fine but the laws of physics in regards to the motion of bodies in the solar system are well known and not up for debate!

thedrizzle96
thedrizzle96
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

So many scientists are doha news commenters! And science is always up for debate and never fact in the sense you’re using it. The two things you said contradict each other in the scientific terminology you’re attempting.

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
5 years ago
Reply to  thedrizzle96

Deleting the rest of this thread for getting off track.

Meh
Meh
5 years ago
Reply to  ShabinaKhatri

@shabinakhatri this is a lame excuse. Nothing wrong was said in the comments and usually comments tend to get off the track. Or does dohanews condone content control?

justa person
justa person
5 years ago
Reply to  ShabinaKhatri

U always like to close threads

Diego
Diego
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Do you actually care when it starts? You must know that they prefer to sight the moon and your scientific mumbo jumbo does not mean much. You are just commenting for lack of better things to do.

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago
Reply to  Diego

You got it the wrong way round, it’s religious mumbo jumbo, science is based on observation and evidence. As I said before it is a nice cultural tradition, like many around the world.

Do I care when it starts? Yes, I don’t want to turn up at a bar and find its shut or get to work too early……..

Diego
Diego
5 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

And Nitche said there is no such things as facts-only interpretations.If I base on observations ,my interpretation of those, says that if there is something on here about religion or america,then you get on the aetheist or anti-USA bandwagon.So consider this a counterbalance before you hit the bars from an American who goes to Church.

Yacine
Yacine
5 years ago

I didn’t know the police here condones the Corniche car parade. I thought last year they issued warnings to drivers not to block traffic on the Corniche. Are you sure about your information @Dohanews?

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
5 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

We covered the car parade last year. Police were directing traffic as it was going on. So seemed like it was condoned.

Andrew
Andrew
5 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

The police issuing warnings to the drivers of Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Maclarens, Bugattis, Rolls Royces, Bentleys?

Anon
Anon
5 years ago

What a cute photo of that man with his son………..sitting dangerously and irresponsibly out of the sunroof of his car…..!

Whatever
Whatever
5 years ago
Reply to  Anon

I am sure this is just “for illustrative purposes” and you would never see this in reality. 😉

YL
YL
5 years ago
Reply to  Whatever

in reality, you will see this in a moving action, wait for National Day!

fullmoon07
fullmoon07
5 years ago
Reply to  Whatever

I have seen worst in reality

Michkey
Michkey
5 years ago
Reply to  Anon

All you expats’ got is road rage! Doesn’t the picture of howitzer aiming to West Bay bother you!!!!

justa person
justa person
5 years ago
Reply to  Anon

Btw the car isnt moving

Anon
Anon
5 years ago
Reply to  justa person

Oh that’s fine then! The kid would be totally fine falling from that height, if the car was not moving, it’s only if it was moving that it would be a problem! Duh.Logic fail.

justa person
justa person
5 years ago
Reply to  Anon

The man is clearly holding the baby مجنونه

SokhnaFan2010
SokhnaFan2010
5 years ago
Reply to  justa person

Actually I think it’s the best picture in the article.

Jen
Jen
5 years ago

Not all resident “Muslim or not” get educed working hours–certainly we have been told via a memo that only Muslims will work reduced hours and we must continue to work 8 hours.

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
5 years ago
Reply to  Jen

Can you please email that memo to us? (editor@dohanews.co) This seems to be in violation of the labor law: http://dohape.dfa.gov.ph/images/Logo/forms/LABOUR-LAW-STATE-OF-QATAR.pdf

Jen
Jen
5 years ago
Reply to  ShabinaKhatri

I don’t think I could-what if this puts me at risk?

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago
Reply to  Jen

Violation of the labour law? Surely not, must be an expat hater

The Eagle
The Eagle
5 years ago
Reply to  Jen

*grabs popcorn*

qatari
qatari
5 years ago
Reply to  Jen

can you post the memo here ??

KJD
KJD
5 years ago
Reply to  Jen

If you like your job and would like to keep it, than I wouldn’t share the memo. 🙂

AEC
AEC
5 years ago
Reply to  Jen

I think a lot of Muslims might find that offensive.

MrJames
MrJames
5 years ago

I’m not Muslim, but Ramadan is a great time to be in Qatar. I never understood why so many expats leave for the month.

LongTerm
LongTerm
5 years ago
Reply to  MrJames

I think for a lot of people, at least for the last few years the mass exodus has been because Ramadan has coincided with summer break. As it creeps back into the school year, the calm we have associated it with will probably ebb away somewhat.

Cerebus
Cerebus
5 years ago

Nothing says charity and introspection like driving one of your 4 Maserati’s down the Corniche for all to see and stare at. This certainly is a cherished tradition. For even more introspection one can stick their children on the roof and their Cheetah in the front seat, as children shouldn’t sit in the front because of the airbag. This driving in circles is often compared to the whirling dervishes and their hypnotic form of remembrance

fullmoon07
fullmoon07
5 years ago

the guy on the roof of the car with a baby rather than friendly is actually criminal….

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
5 years ago
Reply to  fullmoon07

The car is not moving – they’re parked waiting to see the cannon.

fullmoon07
fullmoon07
5 years ago
Reply to  ShabinaKhatri

better than….considering I saw here people driving with infants on their shoulders

Bolly or Jack
Bolly or Jack
5 years ago

I’ve a question about Ramadan. It’s the sort of question a 16 year might ask in their Religious Education class, so I am expecting a range of comments. But it is a genuine question. Here goes. If I were a practicing Muslim and I lived in the far north, say Tromso, above the arctic circle and there is no night during June, no setting sun, what do I do during Ramadan?

Meh
Meh
5 years ago
Reply to  Bolly or Jack

If you were standing on the north pole, in what direction would you pray to?
Which way do muslim astronauts pray to in space?

All genuine questions that several muslim scholars have had different answers to.

Heisenberg
Heisenberg
5 years ago
Reply to  Bolly or Jack

Many muslims in Scandinavian countries fast for more than 20 hours during summer, while others choose to follow their home countries, on winter however they only fast for 2 hours.

Michkey
Michkey
5 years ago
Reply to  Heisenberg

Home countries? There are no Icelandic Muslims? All of them can’t be praising to Odin?

Heisenberg
Heisenberg
5 years ago
Reply to  Michkey

As far as I know all muslims over there are immigrants.
No, they have Thor as well.

Simon
Simon
5 years ago
Reply to  Bolly or Jack

Fast during daylight hours. No wonder you can’t get a flight out on SAS at this time of year!

The Saint
The Saint
5 years ago
Reply to  Bolly or Jack

Actually from this coming Ramadhan Muslims in Northern Norway will follow a Fatwa by
Dr. Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz Almosleh from KSA which said that if daylight hrs are more than 20, then they should follow Mecca time. For this Ramadhan as you said-the sun never sets.

SokhnaFan2010
SokhnaFan2010
5 years ago
Reply to  The Saint

FYI There’s an interesting collection of short videos on the BBC website at the moment covering real life experiences of Muslims around the world and how they manage their time during Ramadan. One of them is a Norwegian family actually. Useful perpsective for non muslims.

Expat
Expat
5 years ago

Ramadan truly is a unique and festive period in this part of the world! Looking forward to it! Happy Ramadan all!! 🙂

Doodz
Doodz
5 years ago

Oh it’s versus fact or friction and science or physics.!!!! The truth is it’s Ramadan.. :p

SullyofDoha
SullyofDoha
5 years ago

Looking forward to Ramadan. I hope everyone that is observing the season has a successful fasting period. To those that do not follow the Islamic faith, enjoy the cultural experience while you are in Qatar.

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Jerry
Jerry
5 years ago

Thank you this was very informative. Being non-Muslim this
answered a lot of questions for me. Can someone clarify this for me? Is water considered
a beverage?

Peaches
Peaches
5 years ago

Can someone explain to me why QDC has to be closed? Muslims are not meant to be drinking alcohol anyway, whether is it Ramadan or not.

SC
SC
5 years ago

Is it alright to eat/drink in public spaces post Iftar ? If so, until when?

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