By Malvika Garia
The holy month of Ramadan has been keenly observed by the Islamic community for centuries and holds significance as the “month of blessings” to many. Many Muslims engage in the act of fasting, which involves refraining from eating, drinking and smoking from sunrise till sunset, in order to foster values of forbearance, patience and humility. As the United Arab Emirates has a pre-dominant Muslim population, the public observance of the fast is a compulsory act regardless of religion and is observed nationwide in business practices as well as public places.
As Ramadan has just started and a majority of your Muslim colleagues are fasting, it is essential for you to maintain courteous behavior towards them and those around you in this country. Here are some pointers that will help you follow the behavioral etiquette expected from you:
- Avoid eating, drinking and smoking during fasting hours in all public places and private transportation unless at designated places. These acts are punishable offence by law and while first-time visitors to the UAE are warned, residents can face a heavy fine of AED 2,000 or a jail term of a month: bit.ly/1K9MaTb
- Dress modestly and refrain from wearing revealing clothes out of respect to those observing fasting/Ramadan. Wear respectable clothing that is not tight-fitting, short or low-cut and remember to cover your shoulders and legs while on the AUS campus and other public places such as malls, hotels and beaches.
- Do not engage in playing loud music or provocative behavior as these acts are not accepted by the cultural standards of the Muslim community and will be considered as disrespectful.
It is also essential to bear in mind that maintaining this etiquette in a workspace will allow you to strengthen ties with your colleagues and here’s how to do so:
- Remember that as working hours are limited to six hours in Ramadan and that most offices close by 3 p.m., try scheduling a meeting in the morning when people are most alert.
- Engage in wishing your colleagues and business partners Ramadan Kareem as it is an appreciated gesture that could strengthen ties.
- Participate in iftar (evening meal) and suhoor (pre-dawn meal) activities if you are invited, as it is considered hospitable to accept such an invitation. It will allow you to get a better understanding of Islamic culture as well as local Emirati customs.
- Patience is a virtue, and in Ramadan, it is the best to display it with those who are fasting as they may be faced with extreme fatigue and dehydration. Do not have high expectations and avoid losing your temper if your work is prolonged as people are tired and working shorter hours.
- Use Ramadan as an initiative to indulge in charitable works and community activities and involve your colleagues as well. This month is a period of self-reflection and bonding through activities such as participating in an Iftar distribution drive will encourage more productive behavior as a team.