...meaning "may your Ramadan be blessed and generous."
Wednesday, 11 August, was the first day of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. There will be no eating, drinking, smoking, dancing, or playing loud music during daylight hours for the duration of Ramadan. All are punishable offenses. The local police are urging everyone to respect the traditions of Ramadan by abstaining from doing these things in public.
There is really no change for us while in the base, but we must be aware of who is among us. We refrain from doing any of the items listed above in the company of Muslims. In my apartment-hotel, the cafe, bar, and the bigger restaurant are closed during daylight hours. One restaurant is open from 6AM until 4PM. The restaurant's curtains are all drawn in and the doors are in the closed position. Room service can still be ordered in the rooms.
Work schedule for those working outside has already changed during the summer hours, starting 15 June until 15 September, where no work is to take place outside in the heat between 12:30PM through 3PM, as decreed by the UAE government. During Ramadan, work is further limited to no more than 6 hours per day. Specifically for the projects that I oversee (most are outside work), the contractors must adhere to the hours set forth by the UAE government. As for me, I will still work the same schedule as I had been working.
Planning for my Friday travels will have to change. Most establishments such as malls, markets, grocery stores, etc., except those that serve food and drinks, are open. They will usually open at later hours and stay open longer, into the late evening. So if I drive long distance to sightsee, I will need to purchase ready-made meals at the grocery store, store the food in my vehicle's refrigerated console, then find a secluded place where I can eat the meal while in the car. While the malls are open, the restaurants, cafes, and the food courts in them are closed until evening time. When walking around, I usually have bottles of water in my pants' side pocket or my backpack. Since I can't sip from the bottle in public, there is no reason to take a water bottle with me while walking around checking out sights. Even when I am in my vehicle, I will have to make sure that no one sees me eating, or drinking water or coffee.
As a guest of this country, I will have to comply with my host's restrictions. Violating the virtues of the fasting month is offending to Muslims and is a criminal act punishable by law. I just need to be considerate of those around me that are fasting and respect what is for them a very holy time. I really don't have any choice.