Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. As it’s a lunar calendar, the first day of Ramadan is confirmed by the sighting of the new moon.
Fasting, or sawm in Arabic, during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. It’s a month in which Muslims around the world focus on religious commitment through prayer, fasting and zakat (giving alms). Fasting starts from sunrise and ends at sunset.
All businesses and companies in Saudi Arabia shorten the working days of Ramadan by two hours to ease the fasting period.
During the day, the city is a haven of tranquility. At night, after the breaking of the fast, people leave their homes and go out to socialize in cafes or in public areas. This can go on until quite late in the morning. Shops and malls are also open until late.
No one is allowed to be seen eating, drinking or smoking during the day, not even in hotels. Restaurants and cafes close during daylight hours and open for iftar, the breaking of the fast at sunset. Some places are also open for suhoor, the last meal of the night before starting to fast at sunrise.
Supermarkets are open during the day. The custom in Saudi Arabia is to break the fast by first having water, Arabic coffee and a few dates. This is followed by prayer and then the iftar meal. The month after Ramadan is Shawwal. The first three days of Shawwal mark the end of the holy month and the start of Eid Al-Fitr festivities.
Photo credits: Blue Abaya Photography