Ramadan is one of the most celebrated occasions in the Islamic calendar, but is also one of the most misunderstood times from the perspective of expatriate people and companies residing in Dubai.
MindBody Dynamixs, coach for international businesses entering the region, has five tips to promote the understanding of local customs and religious practices that commonly cause confusion during Ramadan and hurt business relationships.
Avoid Late Afternoon Meetings:
Be considerate of those fasting and avoid scheduling a meeting after 3pm, when people will begin to be drained from energy.
The best time to schedule a meeting is late morning (around 10am or 11am) – this is when people will be most alert.
Don’t Make Assumptions:
Not all Muslims cover and not all wear national dress. It’s perfectly fine to ask a client and/or co-worker if they are Muslim and if they are fasting. If they are not fasting – don’t pry – it’s likely for a personal health reason.
If you are invited to an Iftar, go.
To be invited to a private Iftar is a hospitable gesture and should not be missed. It is a fantastic, often once-in-a-lifetime experience of traditional Muslim and Emirati culture.
If you’d like to hold a corporate meal, try hosting a Suhoor instead of an Iftar. Many people are inundated with Iftar invitations, so a Suhoor is a better option and more unique than other invitations.
Ramadan is the ideal time for internal business activities to take place. Use this time to brainstorm with employees, plan, and assess company progress.
If you have existing clients, use this time to bond with them and strengthen your working relationship.
Ramadan is also a time for your company to give back to the community by participating in charitable and community activities.
Be Patient and Respectful:
It’s hot out, people are tired. Try to avoid losing your temper and be patient with those fasting.
Don’t expect people fasting to be in the right frame of mind to make major decisions or implement new activities.
Ramadan is a time of self-reflection and quality time with family and friends.
For Muslims, Ramadan is the holiest month of the year. It is a month for spiritual reflection, prayer, spending time with family and friends, as well as doing good deeds and being charitable.
For non-Muslims in the UAE and other Muslim countries, the 30 days of fasting falling into the month of July and August this year will be about respecting local culture and traditions.
But for foreign expats who are unaware of the significance of Ramadan and are at sea on how to conduct themselves during the period, Dubai-based Eton Institute will be organising its ‘Ramadan Etiquette’ workshops aimed at elucidating the mystery surrounding the holy month of Ramadan.
“This July, celebrate the spirit of Ramadan and educate yourself about the customs, festivities and all you need to know regarding this holy month with Eton Institute, UAE’s largest training institute located in Dubai and Abu Dhabi,” Eton said in a media statement, inviting the country’s non-Arab expats to attend its free seminars.
“In a bid to educate the community about the local culture and traditions associated with the holy month, Eton Institute has been successfully running the Free Ramadan Etiquette Workshops for over 5 years in Dubai. This year it extends its reach to the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi,” it said in the statement.
“Every year, the response is amazing from the community. That is why we have extended the workshop to Abu Dhabi, to provide residents with the same knowledge of cultural awareness and customs that are observed during Ramadan that Dubai residents have benefited from, over the last five years,” explained Moaz Khan, Marketing Manager at Eton Institute.
“The 2-hour workshop covers topics such as identifying and acknowledging the Arab cultural and spiritual heritage, understanding the impact of values, biases and subjectivity on one's attitude, identifying and demonstrating appropriate cultural and spiritual sensitivity in one's approach, being familiar with important Arabic expressions and greetings, as well as being mindful of the etiquette to be observed during the holy month. There is a large community of expats who would like to educate themselves about respecting the local culture and traditions. These are all points that can only prove beneficial to any non-Muslim expat living in the UAE,” he added.
The workshop will be held in Abu Dhabi on July 10 (4pm to 6pm) at Eton Institute, near Khalifa Park and will in Dubai on July 11 (4pm to 6pm) at Eton Institute in Dubai Knowledge Village. Registrations are now open.