Few Muslims in the National/YouGov survey attached much positive significance to the secular aspects of Ramadan, including shops and malls opening late (six per cent), special sales and discounts (five per cent) and Ramadan programming on television (6per cent). On the other hand, many welcomed the shorter hours at work or school (21 per cent) and the opportunity for friends and families to gather for iftar (35 per cent).
There were perceived downsides to the month for many Muslims: 44 per cent did not like the extent to which shops and malls became crowded in the evenings, 54 per cent resented the increased prices of groceries and 62 per cent were critical of impatient drivers. The survey cast a spotlight on attitudes towards television programming during Ramadan. While most types of programme did not attract the opprobrium of the majority, love stories were deemed inappropriate by 52 per cent of all respondents, with Muslims (68 per cent) feeling most strongly about this. In contrast, a large proportion of all those surveyed felt that game shows (41 per cent), comedy shows (47 per cent) and drama series (41 per cent) were appropriate.
The 544 respondents who deemed TV programmes inappropriate were offended by revealing clothing (73 per cent), scenes of intimacy (72 per cent), music and dancing (56 per cent) and inappropriate language (50 per cent). Programmes from Lebanon (45 per cent), Turkey (41 per cent) and Egypt (39 per cent) were considered the worst offenders. On a practical note, 69 per cent of all those surveyed believed productivity at work decreased during Ramadan because people felt too lethargic, a perception higher among Christians (84 per cent) than Muslims (61 per cent). For 45 per cent, reduced working hours were also to blame, while 59 per cent felt the shorter day made it harder to conduct business with overseas companies. During Eid, 23 per cent were planning to travel or buy gifts for their family (21 per cent) or themselves (12 per cent).
"Of course, some people will see the overcrowded roads and shops as a disadvantage to Ramadan," said Dr Yasin Ghadi, professor of Islamic studies at the UAE University in Al Ain. "But they should be more patient; it is just a busy time of year. "The biggest problem in my opinion about Ramadan is how people act after it is finished. They may stop reading the Quran every day and stop going to the mosque, but this is not as much of a problem as forgetting how to act.