For the second year in a row, Ramadan will be mostly celebrated at home.
With large public gatherings off the cards and many avoiding lavish iftars, homes are the venue of choice for most people marking the holy month.
However, intimate meals and time spent with close family can only be a good thing. If you’re thinking of setting the scene to make it all the more special, here are some Ramadan decor tips from the experts.
All about the entrance
It’s the gateway to your home, the place that first sets the mood – so spruce your entrance up, advises UAE interior designer Neeshay Nouman, founder of The Niche Corner.
“Bring out your nicest console table and position it against a wall in your entryway or foyer. Add a decorative lamp or some formal-looking candle stands, and prop a lantern or two on the floor next to it. Get a metal tray and load it up with dates and place in the centre of the console," she advises.
Finish with a diffuser or an incense burner for an aromatic ambience.
"Remember, this is not your permanent setting so it’s OK to go a tad overboard with the decor during Ramadan and make it as festive as possible," Nouman adds.
Ramadan home tents and majlis-style seating
Ramadan tent permits have been cancelled in Dubai and Abu Dhabi – but you can recreate the magic at home.
There are many ways to craft a home teepee. For a makeshift one in the children's room, tie a cotton clothes line from a curtain rod to a heavy piece of furniture. Layer a thin bed sheet with a traditional Arabesque pattern over it, and tuck the sides under pillows placed on the floor. Make sure you fasten the cloth using pins. You can then line the inside of the tent with a warm rug, more cushions and lanterns.
For a more permanent effect, you can make a simple teepee at home or in the garden. Purchase four eight-foot-tall boards measuring 2.5 centimetres x 5cm, and three 0.6cm wooden dowels that are at least 127cm long. Drill 2cm holes at each end of the boards. Overlap two of the boards so the holes line up and insert the dowel through the hole. The remaining two dowels can be inserted at the holes in the base of the boards. Cover the frame using a bed sheet or blanket in traditional Arabic patterns and colours.
You can also find a plain white teepee online (Noon, Amazon and FirstCry all sell versions) and decorate it in Ramadan colours.
Nouman recommends stocking up on flat seating cushions for the floor of the tent, and topping it up with cushions. Prop a corner table in the centre and add some lanterns for a cosy majlis where you can break your fast with the family.
A number of brands have Ramadan-themed cushions especially for this reason, including Tribe, Pan Emirates and Danube Home.
Add new elements to the house
"Start with identifying the colour palette," advises Farah Merhi, a Lebanese-American designer who has teamed up with Home Centre to bring her Inspire Me! Home Decor collection to the region.
"Decorative cushions are a must to elevate the room, whether added to your sofa or armchairs. Add texture by styling a throw blanket on your sofa. Anchor the room and add warmth by choosing a rug with beautiful colours and a fun pattern," she says.
For those looking to add new furniture to the house, brands across the region have released Ramadan-themed collections. In March, Danube Home released a Ramadan e-catalogue with a number of pieces in Arabesque styles.
Dining together for iftar is one of the hallmarks of Ramadan, so there’s plenty of reason to spruce up that dining table.
"We're seeing a lot of formal dinnerware being used to curate the perfect setting," says Kelly Smith, head of visual merchandising at homeware brand aura Living. "These settings are, in some instances, for a lot smaller gatherings, so even more detail is being put into each one of them. A trend we're seeing is a lot of gold accents and traditional Arabic calligraphy, with accents of intricate Arabesque patterns."
One such example would be the brand's Famiglia range. In recognition of the fact many families still aren't able to meet owing to travel restrictions and guidelines regarding gatherings, aura Living has released a playful cartoon dinnerware set designed by Layan Al Hamed to add some whimsy, while reminding people of the importance of family.
Katie Watson Grant, who launched her "tablescape-in-a-box" company Lavender & May in 2020, advises hosts to keep the centrepieces simple.
“At iftar, food should be the focus so go heavy on the place settings instead. Use taper candle sticks or a string of lantern lights or a vignette of Arabic lanterns on the centre of your table for a simple look," she says.
"Another traditional Ramadan decoration is the crescent Moon. Use this in new and modern ways by adding ribbon to small ones and tying round your napkins, or asking your florist to create small Moon-shaped arrangements.”
Nouman believes that, when it comes to lighting, the more the merrier.
"Whether you decide to grab some battery-operated fairy lights, tall lanterns or wax candles, either way you will set the mood," she says.
"Bath & Body Works has candles and traditional candle holders and, for a simpler twist, try tea light candles. Fill up a wide bowl with water, pop in tea light candles and flower petals and you have a lovely, cost-effective decor idea."