Ask Ali: How trustworthy is a paperless warranty and why are there no fireworks for Islamic New Year

In this week's Ask Ali we learn about paperless warranties and why there are no fireworks for Islamic New Year.

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Dear Ali: I recently moved to the UAE from the US with my family. Last week, when I was purchasing some small items with my kids in an unbranded neighbourhood store, I asked for a warranty, but the guys threw me a phrase meaning that I can come back any time I face any problem with it. Does that really work here? Can I just trust them and get a refund or exchange for the item if anything goes wrong with it, even if I don't have any papers to prove it? SD, Abu Dhabi

Dear SD: Hayakom Allah – God greets and welcomes you to your new home, the UAE. I understand your situation. You probably were in a small, privately owned convenience store that can be found in lots of areas here. Such shops have just about everything for your average daily needs and we often get things from there when we forget to buy something while shopping in a supermarket.

Usually these stores are visited by the people living in that area, hence employees know their customers by face or by name. This little peculiarity does make a difference to the whole experience. Once the offer to fix a problem at any time is made, consider it as a lifetime warranty. There’s no need to anticipate being cheated. These shops have built their business on loyalty and trust. That’s why many people still prefer the small corner shops to bigger stores. To be safe, just keep the receipt with you in case you are eligible to exchange or return the purchased item.

Dear Ali: Can I ask you why there are no fireworks to celebrate the Islamic New Year? SE, Dubai

Dear SE: I believe you mean the Hijri New Year occasion, which passed a couple of days ago. Basically the Islamic New Year is acknowledged by way of an official holiday, but it is not necessarily celebrated the same way it is in the Gregorian calendar.

Hijri refers to the period that the Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) emmigrated from Mecca to Medina.

What many people don’t know is that the first month of the Arabic Hijri calendar is actually called the Forbidden – or in Arabic, Muharram. This month was given this name in the hope that the people would stop fighting against each other. Some of this dates to before the arrival of Islam in the Arab world.

There is no history of using fireworks for this occasion, dating back to the times of the Prophet. According to religious practices, any form of Islamic celebration should be as modest as possible.

Even though Hijri New Year is considered an official holiday in the UAE and in almost all of the Islamic nations in the world, this event is more official than social. However, many people send simple greetings such as “We wish you a happy Hijri New Year!” messages to each other on this occasion. So we may not use fireworks to celebrate our New Year but, hey, don’t worry, fireworks will always have a place in the UAE’s skies.

Ali Al Saloom is a cultural adviser and public speaker from the UAE. Follow @AskAli on Twitter, and visit www.ask-ali.com to ask him a question.