The Holy Month of Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Muslims observe it all over the world as a period of fasting (sawm), one of the ﬁve pillars of Islam, from sunrise to sunset. It’s a sacred period of reﬂection, worship and self-improvement, as well as a time for families and friends to come together.
As Ramadan is called by the moon-sighting committee in Saudi Arabia at the appearance of the new moon, exact dates cannot be given until the night before. This year, Ramadan is expected to begin on Saturday May 27 and run until Sunday June 25, when three days of Eid al-Fitr will be celebrated. This is a special time of year that everyone can benefit from, and a great time to immerse yourself in the country’s culture and heritage.
How to get involved
Ramadan is the perfect time to delve into the UAE’s rich culture, whether it’s by signing up for the Arabic classes you always said you would or visiting the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding to learn more about Ramadan, Islam and the history of the country. The Holy Month is also a time of selflessness. There are lots of charitable initiatives to take part in, and it’s a great way to engage with one of the most important Islamic traditions, as well as to help the needy.
Donate to charity
Charities such as Emirates Red Crescent and Dubai Cares run donation drives during Ramadan. Emirates Red Crescent is also currently in the middle of a donation drive for those affected by the severe drought in Somalia. The For Your Sake, Somalia campaign is calling for contributions through Etisalat and du, as well as through the Emirates Red Crescent website. Donate to fund houses, wells, ambulances, medical supplies and food parcels, as well as make general offerings of any amount.
Filling the Blues
Each year, a number of restaurants around the city donate iftar meals to be handed out to the city’s construction workers and labourers. It’s headed by the people behind Moti Roti, and this year, restaurants including Café Isan, Pitfire Pizza, BookMunch Café and Sumo Sushi & Bento are taking part. Sign up to volunteer handing out meals at the construction site in Cluster J, JLT via Moti Roti’s website.
Language courses can, of course, be pricey, but during Ramadan, Eton Institute is offering to 50 percent off Arabic courses.
From Dhs750 (30 hours). June 4-22, 4.30pm to 6.30pm. www.etoninstitute.com/events-promotions.
Ramadan Sharing Fridges
If you were in the city during Ramadan last year, you might have heard about this initiative. Fridges are set up outside across the city for you to donate food and drinks to the needy during the Holy Month. To see the map of all fridge locations (which is continually updated), join the Facebook group, where you’ll also find plenty of information about what, how and when to contribute.
Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding
This centre in the heart of Old Dubai runs tours, breakfasts and lunches with Emiratis throughout the year. During Ramadan, it also holds iftar. You’ll arrive in time to hear the call to prayer before breaking the fast with your hosts. During the iftar experience, you can ask anything and everything about Islam, Emirati traditions and Ramadan in a friendly, relaxed environment. The iftar experience runs from Monday May 29 until Thursday June 22 and begins approximately 30 minutes before the sunset call to prayer.
Dhs155 (adults), Dhs80 (kids aged seven to 12), free (kids under seven). House 26, Al Mussallah Road, Al Fahidi Historical District, Bur Dubai, www.cultures.ae (04 353 6666).