An Irishman's experience of working in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Ghana & Tanzania
Saturday, 21 July 2012
And so the holy month of Ramadan has begun here in the Kingdom, and indeed all across the muslim world, though some are a day later as the start day all depends on the sighting of the crescent moon I understand.
We set off for work this morning by taxi at our normal time of 7:30am, and found that we made it in to work in 7 mins ! as the roads were almost completely empty, we arrived into an empty office as our Saudi colleagues are observing Ramadan Hours, so we shall see them at 11am today and they will finish work at 3pm, we will continue to 6:30pm.
As a guest in the country, we must of course also respect the fast during the holy month as that is what is expected here, though it is allowed for non-muslims to privately eat something away from those fasting.
The Fast is observed from sunrise to sunset, and includes abstinence from food, water and smoking, and bear in mind that temperatures in the Kingdom have been running over 50 in the past week and it is easy to see that this is a massive physical challenge…, which understandably affects work and productivity, locals generally will sleep on later during Ramadan, sometimes on into the day.
At sunset, the fast is broken traditionally with dates, at home with family and afterwards, Iftar dinners and gatherings are held. Shopping Centres are also then open to 2am as it is at this time in the evening that locals will come out and shop, socialise and celebrate in a very Saudi way !
I was in Afghanistan last year for Ramadan in obviously different circumstances but remember my Afghan colleagues struggling to work in extremely hot conditions, and the knock-on effect on productivity, this year, I am much closer to it here in Riyadh, and can see how important this time is for Muslims…..
So four weeks of the Holy Month and I will be heading home to Ireland on the start of the EID celebrations on August 16th………….