No other occasion is ideal to experience Oman's multi-cultural facet than Iftar meetings during the Holy Month of Ramadan. It is the time when mosques and public places spring to life as the faithful, who keep themselves away from food and water from dawn to dusk, assemble to break the fast, sharing food, sitting across the same mat.
Tranquility is the hallmark of these meetings, as the faithful immerse in intense prayers to purify themselves spiritually, mentally and physically during the blessed month.
Expatriates feel that it is a unique Omani phenomenon that makes Ramadan more enjoyable here than at their home countries. Reduced working hours and friendly Iftar parties are the other major factors that force them to stay in the Sultanate during the Holy Month. As Ramadan moves towards its culmination, expatriates from various countries share their unique experiences with Hi Weekly.
Aisha delos Reyes (Philippines)
Office Manager, WALS Energy
I am not a born Muslim, and never got an opportunity to eat Iftar dinner in my home country, Philippines. But I began experiencing the bliss of the Holy Month after I came to Oman. Here, Ramadan is peaceful and enjoyable. I am fortunate to have plenty of friends who invite me to their homes for delicious Iftar dinners. However, I must say that, in terms of family values and sharing food, one cannot find any differences between Oman and Philippines.
Iftar delicacies in Oman are quite different from the traditional Filipino cuisines. Those who are fasting in Philippines cannot find dates and laban, the two most essential food items for Iftar everywhere, as only a few stores sell them. But I never felt that I missed Filipino delicacies here in the Sultanate. Whenever I yearned for it, I prepare it at home or go to any of the Filipino restaurants.
Being a woman who has been fasting for the last four years (I am living in Oman for 10 years), I must say that it is a blissful experience. Many of my non-Muslim Filipino friends are concerned how I could fast, as I keep away from food and water from dawn to dusk. But I try to explain to them that fasting is not just about saying no to food. It's about getting closer to Allah. One has to abstain from sin, contemplate and cleanse spiritually, mentally and physically. You need to adhere to the religious principles.
Amjid Ali (Pakistan)
Group IT Manager, Al Saleh Group of Companies
The month for self purification witnesses a host of social events in Oman. Citizens are more compassionate, caring, kind and grateful and everybody can experience this in all parts of the country, be it in office, roads, supermarkets or mosques. That is why I wish to spend Ramadan in Oman than my home country. I really feel proud to be in Oman where everyone respects and cares for each other. It is the time of the year when supermarkets offer special prices on commodities and it makes a lot of difference in the lives of the consumers.
I never felt like I am living in another country as all the varieties of food, which we use for Suhoor and Iftar are easily available here. I love to combine traditional Pakistani cuisines with Omani coffee, Halwa, Mutabbal, Hummoos and Hammour, my favourite fish.
I strongly believe in Ramadan's social appeal. It is a pleasure to see the Iftar arrangements in mosques and other public places where hundreds of people break their dawn to dusk fast together. I also had Iftar with my friends and office colleagues. The Tarawih prayer time is another avenue to boost brotherhood. Employers do care for their staff during the Holy Month. With the shortened work hours, I get more time for prayers and make necessary arrangements for Iftar.
Fahim Firfiray (United Kingdom)
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