5 Ways To Help Your Business To Show Sensitivity And Cultural Respect During Ramadan
Updated: May 1
27th March 2023
Ramadan has arrived and is a great time for your business to show cultural respect and sensitivity to it's stakeholders. Whether you are new to the UAE and experiencing your first Ramadan in a Muslim country, or you have been living and working in the UAE for years, this blog post is intended as a helpful guide to understand a Muslim's daily routine during Ramadan, with five tips for easily adapting your business for success during the Holy Month. Showing cultural respect during Ramadan goes a long way.
There is more to Ramadan that just fasting during the daylight hours. It is a time of reflection, gathering with friends and family, and helping those less fortunate in the community. The days are long and filled with lots of activities, which over the period of a month, significantly impact a Muslim's rest and sleep.
To help with the understanding of how long the days are, below is a schedule for the activities associated with Ramadan, for today (27th March 2023, in the UAE) which is the fifth day of Ramadan. As Ramadan is a month in the Hijri calendar, which is a lunar calendar, the timings for various activities will change very slightly from day-to-day throughout the month as the days get longer and the nights get shorter.
A time hasn't been provided for Suhoor, as this will be specific to each household. (For anyone going to a hotel for Suhoor, this can be anytime after Iftar, before dawn.) Muslims will usually break their fast at Iftar with dates, dried apricots and juices, the go to Maghreb prayers before having a meal with their family and friends. It's a very social time, with eating and visiting going on late into the night and even early morning.
UAE Time Activity Description of Ramadan Activity
Suhoor The meal eaten before dawn.
4.48am Imsak The beginning of the daily fast.
4.58am Fajr The early morning prayers for Muslims.
12.27pm Dhuhr The midday prayers for Muslims.
3.53pm Asr The afternoon prayers for Muslims.
6.36pm Iftar The time for the breaking of the fast. This coincides with the call to
Maghreb prayers, which are the sunset prayers for Muslims.
7.51pm Ishr The nighttime prayers for Muslims.
5 ways your business can show cultural respect during Ramadan
1. Acknowledge the holy month with Ramadan greetings
Greet people you see, especially Muslims, with Ramadan greetings, such as 'Ramadan Kareem' or 'Ramadan Mubarak' which are well wishes meaning: 'Generous Ramadan' and 'Blessed Ramadan'.
2. Dress Modestly
It is respectful to cover up the skin during Ramadan, especially when in contact with Muslims. In particular, ladies can show consideration by wearing outfits with long sleeves, without plunging necklines, and with hemlines past the knees. This shouldn't be difficult given that modest clothing has been fashionable over the last few years. Men are encouraged to wear long sleeved shirts and to choose trousers rather than opting for shorts.
3. Schedule business meetings considerately - keep them short and on point
Business hours are reduced for everyone by two hours per day during Ramadan, so most offices will close mid-afternoon. Where possible schedule meetings for the morning time. This is when those who are fasting will be most alert.
Only schedule meetings which are absolutely necessary, such as when decisions meed to be made, and don't let them drag on. To keep them on point, set an agenda in advance.
Don't schedule meetings during Iftar.
Be flexible and understanding.
4. Don't eat and drink in public
It is not obligatory for non-Muslims to fast; however it is an offense to eat and drink in public in the UAE during Ramadan. Show respect to your Muslim employees and colleagues by not eating and drinking in front of them. If possible, set aside a room or closed-off area where non-fasting team-members can discreetly eat and drink without disturbing any Muslims in the workplace.
5. Show patience and understanding
Being mindful of the Ramadan routine. Reduced sleep, thirst and hunger takes its toll. Be patient with those around you who are fasting and accept that productivity maybe reduced. If possible, be flexible with deadlines.
Adapting the usual way of conducting your business with these small changes will show respect to your Muslim employees, colleagues, clients and business partners, whilst still continuing with your day-to-day operations. It can also help to forge stronger relationships.
For added kindness, consider inviting those around you for Iftar. Don't be offended if some Muslims refuse, preferring to be with their families - the invitation is appreciated. At the end of Ramadan, a token gift of something sweet, to celebrate Eid Al Fitr, is an another suggestion.
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