Ramadan in the Middle East is something that I will always be thankful for; a whole month when everyone everywhere slows down and reflects. All healthy adults fast from food, drink, sex and actively strive to be kinder, more generous and calmer from sunrise to sunset. For financially able adults who cannot physically fast due to health related reasons, they have to feed one poor person each day of the month.
In Saudi Arabia, it’s all about giving. Tents are pitched every few blocks and anyone can come in for a meal at sunset. Charities give out enormous amounts of food and clothing supplies. And on the last day of Ramadan, literally tons of bags of uncooked rice are handed out to the poor.
Within households, Ramadan has its own unique atmosphere. Special Ramadan recipes are prepared. Neighbors exchange dishes just before sunset. And people throw Ramadan themed parties where all the kids get to dress in Saudi traditional clothes and collect little bags of toys and candy.
The whole daily schedule is turned upside down. Work hours are changed with the majority of employers only requiring a maximum of six hour workdays. And then there’s the shopping and build up towards Eid. If you want to avoid the crowds, do not go shopping from 9 pm to 2 am. But if you really want to see the natives in action, that’s the time to hit the malls.