As Ramadan draws near, Qatar residents are grappling with a variety of emotions – excitement, anticipation, apprehension, depression.
For some, Ramadan is a spiritual month of connections with God and community. For others, especially non-fasting expats, it’s more of a lonely slog, full of inconvenience and unfamiliar customs (public eating/drinking is banned during daylight hours, so most restaurants stay closed until sunset).
One thing’s for sure – Ramadan holds a different meaning for everyone.
Some expats plan to take advantage of it.
Glen McKay at Skeptic in Qatar writes:
Yes, I will be fasting again and I’ve already started preparations, namely weaning myself off of caffeine…
I recall that my first year here it started a day earlier than expected, which caused a bit of anguish as colleagues and I were at a bar to have final drinks before the bars are shut for Ramadan. As soon as I got to the bar Ramadan was announced and hotel staff immediately came in with carts to take all the alcohol away so there was no chance for us to get some drinks. Apparently the hotel only has a couple of hours to lock up the booze before the police come to check to see that the bar has been closed.
Anyway in addition to fasting I plan to do other Ramadan activities such as visiting a mosque and maybe attending a reading of the Qur’an.
And on her blog, Mohana ponders a way to make Ramadan meaningful for all:
The seasons of fasting is around the corner of the weekend. In order to be home — and avoid breaking fast at 10pm when the sun goes down in Europe some say — Qatari families are coming home earlier from their sun soaked days in Nice, Barcelona, or the far ends of the earth. Because the start of school and universities are delayed until after Eid al Fitr, expats are heading to the airport (or indeed airport hopping) during what they consider a “dead” month…
This Ramadan, why not reach out to someone and do the thing the season was designed to do: spend thoughtful, intentional time at a meal, or in prayer, or some other activity that will make you feel more connected rather than alienated? Let’s bring out the best in each other, expat and Qatar, South Asian and western, rather than the worst that is circling around us in the all the too present stereotypes.
After all — you know you’ll have some time — what else are you going to do while waiting for everything to open?
What about you guys?
Are you looking forward to Ramadan? Are you nervous about the heat?
Please share your thoughts!