TODAY IN THE SULTANATE: RAMADAN KAREEM
Today is the first day of Ramadan in Oman; with the sighting of the moon crescent in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Jordan, those countries announced the advent of the first day of the Holy Month of Ramadan yesterday, on Friday.
Religious authorities in several Middle East countries declared Friday as the start of Ramadan, a period devoted to dawn-to-dusk fasting, prayers and good deeds.
Ramadan Kareem is a greeting that means Generous Ramadan because it is a generous time; Muslims get many blessings and see all the things they are to be thankful for. They also give charity during Ramadan. Another greeting is Ramadan Mubarak, which means basically “Congratulations! It’s Ramadan!”
This will be my first Ramadan in a Muslim country. I will only be here 12 more days, but Ramadan goes through either August 18 or 19; I assume since it started one day late in Oman, it will last one day longer, but I could be wrong.
This is what I read about what will happen from a long-time expat: Sleep during the day, go out in the evenings. Everything will stay open to the early morning hours. If you do go out during the day, you will find many shops closed (the smaller type places) but you will also find no traffic and the big malls pretty much empty, but open. Keep in mind you shouldn’t eat or drink in public to and from your car. The city will wake up each evening around 5 or 6 and people will take to the streets in masses for iftar. Many of the locals will tend to stay up until the wee hours out and about, only to come home in time to pray and go to sleep.
So, although we have a holiday on Monday, for Renaissance Day in Oman, I don’t know what to do. If I go to Muscat, there will be no restaurants open and nowhere to eat or drink. I can’t drink or eat in public, so I would have to stay hunched down in my car or hidden on some off-the-beaten-path. Or I could fast myself. I guess I will spend my time sleeping, since there is nowhere to go and nothing to do. It should be interesting at least. Maybe I will try to experience different varieties of iftar: the evening meal when Muslims break their fast during Ramadan; it is usually done in community. I’ve seen advertisements for iftar dinners in restaurants in Muscat. Maybe I’ll have to try one!