Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ramadan in Oman-And Other Countries

I can say without doubt that the biggest culture shock I had when I moved here was during the month of Ramadan.  I had no idea what exactly happens during that month, since in Lebanon, there were no lists of things we can and can’t do.
The first thing I realized one day when I went to school, was that the food court actually moved to the basement.  After asking around, my friends told me that they were fasting, and we will not be allowed to eat or drink anything anywhere besides the designated area in the school.  A friend of mine actually got in trouble that year for chewing gum in public- it was the first day of Ramadan and she had no idea what that meant.  I was happy that the school timings changed and the classes were generally less hellish!
Soon enough I got used to the facts that come along with Ramadan- do not show any skin, don’t wear any revealing clothes, don’t wear anything too tight, do NOT smoke in public (car is also considered a public area), you are not allowed to chew gum eat, or drink water.  I have accepted these facts, because to be honest, if you don’t like the rules, no one is forcing you to stay here, right? We have all year to pretty much do whatever we want to do, and eat wherever we want to eat, and this is a month of respect and tolerance.  I don’t really understand why people KNOWINGLY get themselves into crap. It is totally understandable if you don’t know and you don’t realize that what you are doing is wrong, but seriously, why do people feel that they have the mighty power to disagree with a rule that is only forced once a year?
The hardest part in Ramadan is actually finding a place to eat if you don’t fast.  Restaurants close so you are forced to eat out at night (pizza hut and papa johns were open for takeaway last year). Every time I take away food, I feel like criminal smuggling drugs into the building for some reason! In Dubai, it felt a little different… people could take away food from most restaurants and it seemed like there were no strict dress codes either. 
The funniest part though, is watching everyone stock up alcohol since they know all bars and alcohol shops will be closed for a month!  Yesterday I was in the shop and they were running out of everything. People were getting out with quite a few of those famous black bags, and i think we bought everything  else left in the shop...


  1. Honestly, as a Muslim, I personally think the rules are ridiculous. If I am fasting, even if every other person in the world isn't, I shouldn't care. That's not what it is about.

    Islam doesn't enforce anything with fasting on non-Muslims, or dresscode outside of work maybe, so these rules aren't from the religion and annoy me. Banning people from eating and drinking in public is stupid. Not everyone is fasting. And if I am, it won't affect me at all. But then, my first Ramadaans were in the West, and I was used to know one even knowing what Ramadaan was sooooo.....

  2. i totally agree....i used to live in dubai and it was really easy there.
    expats would willingly show respect rather than do it forcably and try and rebel..
    see there, people arent forced to dress in a certain way, they are made to understand that it is a consirvative month so they do it by themselves, of course being the touristic place that it is, many dont...but you dont see them getting in trouble

    and finding food there is very easy, most placees are open for takeaway and delivery....no really like pretty much all the places...some food courts even have a boarded corner so your kids can eat without any problems!!! (just kids tho :P )

    i dont see why places to eat are ALL closed down here...i mean, if someone wants to eat, they will......and what about the non-muslims? what about people with diabeties who HAVE to eat their pills with lunch? (my dad is diabetic so i see what its like).

    religion is always a choice....and if others respect ours and give us the honor of chosing our country to call their home, we should at least try to make them feel like its a home.

  3. @Omani Princess: I have a few friends who said the same as you did,but i always wonder, is it a law here? like can people call the police if they find someone eat in public? that would be strange!

    @bader you are right, not everyone can fast. I think as a foreigner, a person can really be scared of all the "rules" and the stories so they don't want to risk it!

  4. C: It isn't. They are governmental guidelines but some companies enforce them. But some idiots (who don't know anything ABOUT their own religion mind you) get offended if they see non Muslim expats wearing 3/4 sleeves and drinking from a water bottle during Ramadan, God forbid. They are usually the idiots decribed in The Linoleum Surfer's latest Ramadaan post. ;)

  5. I heard that in Malaysia, nothing closes down during Ramadan. It is left up to the people to live by their own discretion. I thought that was interesting as my only Ramadans have been here in this region. I don't remember what it was like in Abu Dhabi though. Or Qatar. But Saudi was very strict. Once here, when my son was really little, like 3; I picked him up from the nursery and went to the gas station shop and bought him a little caprisun. I opened it as usual and because they are those squeezy type containers, I always take a sip! So he doesn't shoot it out when he handles it. I turned in the car and handed it to him and when I turned around there were two Omani men with their mouths wide open! I got so stunned when I realized what I had done and how judgmental they were looking at me and what do I do? Now, I converted right? I made the sign of the cross!!!!! OMG those men were so shocked! I quickly turned the car on and took off and then had to pull over and laugh my ass off. One of my funniest Ramadan memories. Oh and catching my house on fire! That's another story!