You should know by now that Ramadan is a time when we should all have extra patience for one and other. Yes, it is a month of reflection and spirituality, but it is also a month of late nights and low blood sugar levels. You need only drive around Dubai as the sun is setting and experience the erratic behaviour on the roads to realise just how frayed tempers can become. But if any group can be seen as an example of how to keep your cool and go the extra mile during these trying times, it has to be the government employees at Dubai Courts.
My daily coverage of the creek-side complex during Ramadan has afforded me a ringside seat to a demonstration of perseverance and patience. This year, the holy month fell just after the end of the yearly judicial holiday, which is when the majority of courts close down to allow judges to go on their holiday leaves. At the start of Ramadan the courts were in full swing again, and many delayed cases were being reviewed. Priority is given to cases in which the individuals charged have been in prison awaiting trial.
While visiting the courts and extending to the judges my best wishes for Ramadan, I took the opportunity to ask each of them how they were handling their heavy caseloads during the holy month. The uniform answer was: every day is just like any other day ? we are pushing ahead. And observing the judges in court, it was clear to see their words were not merely rhetoric. For the past few weeks, an air of calmness has surrounded proceedings.
Just this week, a lawyer raised eyebrows by speaking for almost an hour in an appeal court. Closing arguments delivered in speech form have always been a rarity in Dubai Courts ? more often than not, written arguments are handed in for review. Closing arguments are heard verbally during big cases only, and even then they are delivered by lawyers who have the experience and eloquence needed to state their arguments in person.
In cases like the one in session on this particular day, the presiding judge usually asks for a quick closing and moves on to the next case. That morning, the judge did not follow routine. Instead, all in attendance sat transfixed by the lawyer. Under normal circumstances, he would have been able to pause at will for a sip of water before continuing his speech. But during Ramadan, none of us is afforded that luxury.
As the minutes ticked by, our admiration for the fasting lawyer grew. By the time he concluded his closing argument, I'm pretty sure I could detect in the judge's eyes a sparkle of respect for the dry-mouthed advocate. I do hope you have no reason to find yourself in a criminal court this Ramadan. But if you do, spare a thought for the judges and the prosecutors who are committed to giving you a fair trial - even when they're thirsty. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org