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What is Ramadaan like in Kuwait?

May 28, 2017 17 Comments

You may be surprised to find out how many people that live in Kuwait aren’t Muslim. When you think of any Middle Eastern country, you immediately picture this scenario:

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While the scenario is prevalent, you should also open your mind up to this:

Multi-ethnic group of students

 

A large expat population means that there is a huge number of people from other various religious faiths. Regardless of your beliefs, if you live in Kuwait, or any other Muslim country, Ramadaan is going to be a part of your life whether you like it or not. I know a lot of expats complain about this time of year but its wholeheartedly better for you if you focus on the benefits during this time (yes there are benefits) rather than, what you perceive as the negatives. Also, the way I see it, Muslim people are doing a great job putting up with drunken behaviour and pork on every menu in other countries, the least people can do is be respectful to them during Ramadaan in a Muslim country.

It is day 2 of Ramadan here in Kuwait so here is quick little lesson for those not in the know:

guide_to_ramadan_1

 

How Ramadaan affects you if you are living in Kuwait but not fasting?

Shorter working hours

Its Kuwaiti law that you AT LEAST start work an hour later and finish an hour earlier meaning that the working day in Kuwait is shortened by  a minimum of two hours. Some companies may give you more time like my school which has us working from 9am to 1pm. Oh and this is for EVERYONE not just those who are fasting.

Its a magical time of year

Life slows down in Kuwait during Ramdaaan.  As you drive at night, you will see houses strung with fairy lights; homes are perfumed constantly with the mixed smells of food and burning incense. The uninterrupted chanting of Quraan verses emanating from the nearby mosque officiates the absolute solemnity of Ramadan. You would think it would be rather stressful with remembering not to eat or drink in public and trying to not to offend anyone but that isn’t the case. You feel more relaxed and it is a time for introspection. Don’t expect much to get much done during this time (in terms of paperwork), because people are on a literal ‘go slow’.

Traffic is crazy just before sunset

With most of the locals rushing to be home in time to break their fast when the sun sets, the roads are absolutely crazy at this time. Try to avoid being on the road at this time because this is also when people would be at their crankiest so road rage would be quite prevalent. On the plus side, many restaurants have ‘Ramadaan menus” which means new dishes, good service and exciting dining options waiting to be sampled. If you love choices, most hotels in Kuwait have a Ramadaan buffet each night such as the Jumeirah Hotel, Marriott Hotel, Crowne Plaza and many more.

Note: Shopping during the week before Ramadaan starts is a bad idea. It looks like a mad dash of grabbing at random items and hurling food into over-flowing trolleys that require at least two SUVs to transport their contents home.

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There are a lot of do’s and don’ts in Ramadaan in Kuwait as one can see from the above warning picture distributed by the Ministry of Interior. However, I am working on the premise that my readers are intelligent humans; I know you aren’t eating in public, dressing provocatively or blasting loud music in your car in Ramadaan. But there are more insidious things you need to avoid like asking certain questions… be aware of what you are saying.  The one thing you can easily do is to avoid asking the following questions:

 

“WHAT? WHY AREN’T YOU FASTING?”

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Very young children, people with severe health issues, pregnant women, menstruating women and women who breastfeed are not obligated to fast during the month depending on their circumstances. Maybe they are not fasting due to other, more personal reasons. The rule of thumb here is that unless someone brings it up first, do not ask. Many women don’t want to share their menstrual cycles with anyone – and many of you probably weren’t looking to find that out, either.

Are you hungry?

giphy7

Yes they are hungry. Reminding of them it is just rude.

But why are you doing this to yourself? God wouldn’t care if you ate.

wtf

And you know this how?

How do you do it? There is no way I could do it!

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No one is asking you to habibti. 

Are you doing Ramadaan too?

No one ‘does’ Ramdaan. Ramadan is the name of the holy month, not a synonym for fasting. You fast in the month of Ramdaan.

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Not even a glass of water?

When fasting during Ramadan, Muslims don’t eat or drink from sunrise to sundown. Yes, this includes water.

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But DO ask questions about the significance of ramadan, family customs and traditions! Muslim people love to dispel the myths that Islam is a scary and incomprehensible religion. This link offers more detailed information about Ramadan from a religious perspective and also, highlights some questions you can ask your Muslim colleagues or friends for their personal experiences. Oh and if you are lucky enough to be invited to a local’s home for iftaar, go!

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Lastly, if you want to say something thoughtful on the subject of Ramdaan to someone you know is Muslim, let’s avoid saying, “Happy Ramadaan!”. If you are living in a Middle Eastern country, you should have a little more cultural awareness. If somehow, that ship passed you by, try saying one of two things:

Ramadan Mubarak” and/or “Ramadan Kareem,” which roughly translates to wishing someone a Blessed Ramadan or Generous Ramadan, respectively. The Americans may call it cultural appropriation but I never met a Muslim person who wasn’t appreciative of hearing those words especially when coming from someone unexpected.

If you’re in Kuwait or any other Islamic country, enjoy the experience of Ramadan and have a blessed month!

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For a more comprehensive list of things to avoid doing in Ramadaan please click here.

Peace out pandas car

 

 

expatpanda

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17 Comments

  • thexpatUAE May 28, 2017 at 9:29 am

    lol you know the no water meme gets me every time! There was one colleague who would ask me that same question EVERY year 😂

    • Expat Panda May 28, 2017 at 11:08 am

      Perhaps they thought the rule changed every year? Haha!

  • A.K. Maleeke May 28, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    Love the memes. I used to get asked “how do you do it?” a lot growing up. It’s nice to hear that you enjoy aspects of Ramadan and respect the customs. One of the perks of living in a Muslim country is shorter work hours during this month. I wish that I could leave work at 1 lol.

    • Expat Panda May 29, 2017 at 7:02 am

      I must say it’s a welcome perk especially with the heat in Kuwait! No point in living in a new place if you can’t enjoy and immerse yourself in the culture. Have a prosperous ramadaan and enjoy the fasting (and evening feasting!).

  • JerseyGirl May 28, 2017 at 6:46 pm

    I have a feeling there will be quite a few of this kind of post this week! Love the water meme that’s so funny and so true!

    • Expat Panda May 29, 2017 at 7:03 am

      I think all of the newbies in the GCC are writing about ramadaan because we are in awe of all the changes… It’s my first ramadaan in a Muslim country so it’s like a whole new world for me… I just had to document it!

  • phillygirl77 May 28, 2017 at 8:29 pm

    We were thinking the same thing. I just published my post on Ramadan in Qatar. Very similar expectations, of course.

  • […] of Central Oslo and walked past the cathedral to the Storting (parliament house). It was the first Friday of Ramadan and I saw many hijabs, it was also a Friday after a public holiday and there were mostly […]

  • […] via What is Ramadaan like in Kuwait? — Expat Panda […]

  • Namrata D Prabhakar June 4, 2017 at 10:23 pm

    Ramadan gives an opportunity to spend some quality time with family, whether locals or expats

  • jiantarm June 14, 2017 at 8:32 am

    Shorter working hours –> this is the best

  • mofosuperheroe August 29, 2017 at 9:03 am

    Thank you so much for this interesting lecture! I enjoyed it very much as I love such interesting bits 🙂

    • Expat Panda August 29, 2017 at 10:20 am

      You’re most welcome! I’m glad you learned something 😊

  • mofosuperheroe August 29, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    <3

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