This year, the holy month of Ramadan has been different for billions of Muslims around the world due to the coronavirus outbreak and the pandemic keeping millions of people indoors. We look ahead to Ramadan 2021 and what expats should expect when living or working in a Muslim country entails during the holy month.
With travel restrictions put in place in many countries across the world, it is difficult for physicians worldwide to move overseas and work in their dream job at the moment. If you are looking to move to Saudi Arabia or the UAE next year then you will likely be there for the period when Ramadan takes place.
Being an expat in majority Muslim countires like these during Ramadan comes with rules that you must abide by. Muslims do not expect expats to practice the principles during Ramadan but there are certain rules put in place that expats must respect and embrace as part of the Islamic culture.
Expats should know that it is a criminal offence to eat, drink or smoke in public between sunrise and sunset. Dressing conservatively during Ramadan is a must and women should cover their arms and legs - as well as toning down their makeup. Muslims are not allowed to listen to music during the festival so keep your music to a quiet level and do not play it out loud.
During the holy month, day to day life for expats will change. Cafes and restaurants will be closed for the month - however, bars and pubs are open but music is not allowed to be played. Nightclubs are closed.
Depending on what country you live in, normal working hours will vary but you must know that working hours will change during Ramadan. Shops are open very early in the morning or after 4pm.
Expats will need to accept that during the holy month, they will need to make some minor changes to how they live their lives. Non-Muslims can also see Ramadan as a time to reflect on themselves and understand all that they have to be fortunate for.
Once fast is broken, there is a celebration at the end of every day. Family and friends get together and enjoy a nice meal. Many Muslims and non-Muslim friends get everyone involved and it is a very welcoming event.
Remember to embrace the spirit of Ramadan and recognise the importance of the holy month.
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