As this is our second Ramadan in Dubai I thought it would be interesting to do a comparison between Ramadan in London and here in Dubai. As hubby is a revert to Islam and I’m a born Muslim, we already had different experiences of fasting in London but weirdly enough we also have different opinions on Ramadan in Dubai!
So for me growing up in London and observing Ramadan from a young age I found it more and more difficult to fast – every year when the month of Ramadan arrived, so would the abundance of awkward conversations and questions at college/university/work – ‘OMG I’m eating my burger in front of you is that okay?’. ‘Please can you turn around so you can’t see me eating’. ‘I feel so bad for you I could never give up food’. ‘If you need to open your fast can you do it quietly and quickly so you don’t disturb others’.
On the positive side, I loved the family life. There was something so special about Iftaar (evening meal to open our fast), it was kind of like all hands on deck when it came close to opening fast and for some reason our dining table was always looking so pretty during Ramadan lol! It’s like we put much more love and effort into setting up for Iftaar than we did for a normal dinner the rest of the year. We also took it in turns to read prayers as a family which really did increase the love between us. Not to mention seeing how excited our non-Muslim friends got when they received daily Ramadan treats lol!
For Ayaan he’s struggled a lot in life and he finds a lot of satisfaction in struggling to achieve something – so for him he loved that people would challenge him with silly questions or that people would eat in front of him and make insensitive comments. Also as he has been Muslim for nearly 6 years, he’s only ever really experienced the long fasts over the Summer period so he’s always had to struggle during Ramadan, whereas I’ve kept fasts over Winter which are much shorter, meaning there are less awkward conversations!
I find in general that as Ramadan is only one month out of twelve, it is really easy for people to forget what the etiquette of Ramadan is, however I found it really isolating that people would make insensitive comments instead of encouraging ones. A little bit of understanding can go a long way!
If I’m totally honest I’ve found it much easier to take part in all aspects of Ramadan in Dubai. I feel like as it’s a whole city effort to observe and respect the month of Ramadan, you are encouraged and supported in fasting. The lifestyle here changes to suit those who are fasting, which for me makes all the difference. Working long hours in London and then coming home to cook took away a lot of spiritual time. I found I was lacking focus and was just going through the motions of fasting but not really getting the most out of it. Whereas in Dubai working hours are reduced to cater to fasting employees.
I also love the fact that non-Muslims are encouraged to get involved and learn about the month of Ramadan. There are SO MANY Ramadan Iftaar tents open to all which means you will definitely open your fast with people from all walks of life, something which doesn’t happen in the UK unless there is a special Iftaar event.
Ayaan finds the lack of struggle difficult in Dubai. He said that although the sun is blazing hot and makes him thirsty during the day, he isn’t struggling to fast as much as he did in London. Having said that we never used to live next to a mosque, which meant a lot of rushing around and not eating properly to make sure he could catch the prayer – whereas now we live next to a mosque and as the fasting hours are shorter than in London it means he has time to relax before going to pray in the evening which he finds a bonus!
Oh and not to forget so many amazing initiatives run to support those who need that extra support during Ramadan, for example we have the Ramadan/Sharing Fridges where people around Dubai set up a fridge outside their homes/workplaces and anyone can pop along to donate food for labourers/construction workers to take for their evening meal – click here for more info. It just builds stronger communities we love it!
There are good and bad points about Ramadan in London, however overall for us both we prefer to observe Ramadan in Dubai. Purely because it feels like you belong and you’re not struggling to fit fasting into a normal day – the day is adapted to fasting. I love the community feel you get with those amazing Ramadan Iftaar tents and the sharing fridges etc. We’ve had nothing but love and understanding from non-Muslims here which is really empowering and encouraging!
We have the opportunity to really focus on our spiritual journey and embrace the month of Ramadan so in shaa Allah we get to observe the full month and come out on the other side as better individuals!
Click here for some of the Ramadan Iftaar tents that will be serving amazing Suhoor (morning meal) and Iftaar (evening meal) feasts.