x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Reduce volume of music during call to prayer, Abu Dhabi hotels told

The ruling from the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority came a a surprise to some, but others say they understand and accept it.

The Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority sent out a circular to all hotels asking them to reduce the volume of music played in public areas during Adhan - or the call to prayer. Antonie Robertson/The National
The Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority sent out a circular to all hotels asking them to reduce the volume of music played in public areas during Adhan - or the call to prayer. Antonie Robertson/The National

ABU DHABI // Hotels in the capital have been asked to pause background music and instruct live bands to down instruments during the call to prayer following complaints from members of the public.

The Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority sent out a circular to all hotels asking them to reduce the volume of music played in public areas during Adhan (call to prayer).

“This is the first time I have seen such a request by the authorities,” said Mohammed Hussain, director of sales and marketing at Al Ain Palace Hotel.

Having worked in the UAE’s hospitality industry for more than 42 years, Mr Hussain said he had never known music being played during the call to prayer to be an issue in the past and he had never received complaints.

“Since the circular we check the prayer times daily and stop all music for about five minutes.”

Whether it be a pause in the background music or a live band stepping away from the stage briefly, the unexpected moment of silence has raised a few questions from guests.

“The type of people who go to these places are not the ones who usually worry about prayer times,” Mr Hussain said. “When we explain to guests why we stop the music they usually understand and accept it.”

The ruling is nothing new to Reema Baroudi, who works at the InterContinental Hotel, who said the live band that performs at the Brazilian restaurant Chamas always stops playing during prayer times.

“Since I started working at the InterContinental eight years ago we have always turned off recorded and live music during prayer times,” said the director of PR and communications.

“For us the circular was just a reminder of something we already do out of respect.”

Pianist Stoyan Stoyanov said his musician wife was recently asked to stop playing during Adhan.

“She had to stop in the middle of a set while performing at Etihad Towers recently after a guest complained and has since been instructed not to play during the call to prayer.”

Mr Stoyanov, 31, who moved to the Emirates from Bulgaria more than four years ago, said he has become accustomed to pausing his set when it coincides with prayer timings.

“I respect the culture and don’t mind pausing, as long as it is something pre-determined.”

The jazz musician said that as long as he was told in advance and not told to stop abruptly, he did not mind stepping away from his piano for a moment.

“You have to alter the song or play a dramatic ending,” Mr Stoyanov said. “This is not fair to the music, musicians and listeners, who have to be respected as well.”

Singer Jae Franklin, 32, said being asked to pause for Adhan was something she was more conscious of in Abu Dhabi as opposed to Dubai.

The American jazz artist had to stop performing at 8pm last Wednesday at an event in the capital.

“I wasn’t sure why we had to end our set just an hour after starting but it made sense when I heard the call to prayer minutes after we stopped.”

Ms Franklin said no stops where required while she was singing during Friday brunch, held from 1pm to 4pm at the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray on The Palm, Dubai.

“It is part of the culture and I am much more aware of it in Abu Dhabi, where I am more mindful of the local customs.”

talsubaihi@thenational.ae