Friday, July 27, 2012

Ramadan Rules (for non-Muslim expats)

Exhibition at Souq Waqif

Be respectful while living in an Islamic country during Ramadan.  It's required.

1.  NO eating, drinking, gum chewing, M&M-popping, candy sucking, spitting, smoking from Suhoor to Iftar.  When in doubt, consider: does it go into or come out of my mouth? If the answer is yes, don't do it.

Suhoor: Morning meal, predawn, last eats before sawm - the fast

Iftar: Evening meal, post sunset, begins with dates, a sip of water, prayer

2. NO singing, dancing, laughing, joking, music-, tv-, iPod-playing/listening, noise or other potentially misunderstood revelry during daylight hours.  When in doubt, consider: does it make fun?  If the answer is yes, don't do it.

At night, traffic again clogs the city as the faithful head to family homes for Iftar or to party "tents" - which are actually not tents at all, but pricey buffets organized by hotels and private groups.  Government offices, pharmacies, malls and businesses stay open into the wee hours as all activity moves from daytime to nighttime.

3. NO short skirts or pants, tight blouses, skin hugging jeans, cleavage bearing tees.  When in doubt, consider: are my knees, shoulders or any part of, including the outline of my awesome body visible? If the answer is yes, don't do it.

This is an always-rule…especially important during the holy month of Ramadan.  You can be ticketed, fined, arrested or verbally castrated for showing too much skin.

4. DO hide in a manager's office to enjoy a cuppa joe or bag of nuts (bottled water hidden under Tom's desk).  Close door, pull curtains before imbibing.
Bob in the corner, behind the door, tucked away in Tom's office
 Tom

6. DO take a turn or two having everyone over for eats, drinks and (low volume) daytime merry in the privacy of your own home.

 
Bob's turn to host the invisible office meal

 Eat! Drink! But no take-away.

7. DO celebrate the bosses' birthday while he's in Scotland.

 
Happy Birthday, Garth…we enjoyed your brownies!

8. DO enjoy the relative quiet and traffic free roads while remembering not to eat, drink or chew anything in your car.  (Avoid driving at 1:30pm when fasters are required, by law, to leave work and the roads clog up again.)
Souk Waqif at Iftar

9. DO Sympathize.

The blazing, broiler-like sun is now filtered through an ocean of air; the kind of weather that cooks your skin like cinnamon toast while sucking every last bit of moisture from your body…all before you reach your car.  Consider: you can huddle along the floorboards and suck liquid from a bottle (after you squeeze-dry your shirt), but fasters are thirsty all day.

10. DO Empathize.

Read the Koran, learn some Arabic (if you can find someone who speaks it), attend an Iftar (don't forget your wallet).  Meet a Qatari (ask Curtis, Mary and Alex to find you one - or go to any government office and talk to an employee.  Or go outside scantily clad - they'll find you).

Follow the rules.  Or do like a lot of people, Qataris included:  leave town.

Bob-and-Cindi-on-the-Road:  Rome, August 17-23

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