x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

How to experience Ramadan

How to in the UAE: An expert offers tips on how to experience Ramadan as a non-Muslim.

Ramadan offers a great chance to experience some traditional hospitality.
Ramadan offers a great chance to experience some traditional hospitality.

Expatriates of other religions are not expected to participate as Muslims celebrate the holy month of Ramadan.

However, modesty and respect are important to keep in mind, said Nasif Kayed, general manager of the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding.

When explaining Ramadan to foreigners, he avoids putting it in terms of what to do and what not to do.

"We look at it from the point of understanding each other better," he said.

While Muslims will abstain from food and drink between sunrise and sunset, non-Muslims are not obliged to do the same - as long as they manage to eat and drink discretely, avoiding public places.

Dress code, especially for women, is an important issue as well: wearing mini skirts and showing cleavage are best avoided.

The fast's spiritual tenets are just as important, said Mr Kayed. Foul language, while always frowned upon, will be considered especially offensive during Ramadan.

But while the fast tests one's body and spirit, it has a festive side, as well. Ramadan offers a great chance to experience some traditional hospitality.

"Find a Muslim who is willing to invite you to their home or go to the mosque iftars," he said.

Many needy people are attending mosque iftars, so bringing a box of soft drinks or fruit could be a good idea. If joining a Muslim family, a home-made dish can be a nice gift.

"Do not buy stuff; make something authentic from your country," he said. "It is a good thing to break the ice."

vtodorova@thenational.ae