Ramadan 2021: families in UAE reflect on year of challenges and a brighter year ahead

‘The National’ speaks to those observing Ramadan for the second time since the pandemic began

Muslims across the UAE are ready to celebrate Ramadan amid a pandemic for a second year.

But while Covid-19 muted celebrations in 2020, this holy month brings hope of better times to come.

Iftars may be still be online, gatherings prohibited and marquees banned, but mosques can open and imams are ready to welcome worshippers in a safe and controlled way.

The General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments has immunised 7,500 mosque staff, provided 1.5 million social distancing stickers to places of worship and sent out half a million bottles of sanitiser to keep people safe.

The global fight against Covid-19 has yet to be won, but hope is on the horizon thanks to safety measures and the swift distribution of vaccines.

As the holy month begins, The National spoke to UAE residents who are taking this time to reflect on the past year of their lives.

Ramadan-inspired decorations hang at a market in Dubai as people shop beforehand. AFP 
Ramadan-inspired decorations hang at a market in Dubai as people shop beforehand. AFP 

‘Covid is a wake-up call’

American-Palestinian resident Dalia Sufian, 36, lost both a family member and her job as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, but she remains optimistic.

“I am looking forward to Ramadan,” she said. “It is generally a good month and a time to get closer to God. We were deeply affected by the death in our family and it will be difficult to spend Ramadan without him, but we did need this time to heal. I do believe that Covid is a wake-up call for all of us to reflect and get closer to God.”

‘Ramadan will be peaceful and quiet, which is what we need’

Emirati Fadya Omar is still optimistic even after her entire family of about 60 members contracted the coronavirus at a wedding ceremony in Al Ain.

“Ramadan is very spiritual and I really need to recharge,” she said.

“My entire family of 10 houses and around six members in each household got Covid, and I thought that I was safe. But my husband later got it through work.”

Ms Omar, her husband and her children were the only ones who had not attended the party.

“My son had no symptoms but had to quarantine alone in a room for 10 days, which is hard for any child,” she said.

The healthcare worker said the past year had been challenging, because of both Covid-19 and with distance learning.

“I was excited at first but now it is impossible to teach my children online and work. Distance learning was a disaster for me and my children,” she said.

“This year has been really hard with Covid and the workload at the hospital, so I am actually looking forward to Ramadan. It will be peaceful and quiet which is what we all need right now,” she said.

‘It will be such a huge difference’

The mother of a baby born a week before Ramadan last year said her joy will be tempered due to the pandemic disrupting travel plans.

Shahd Mardini, 28, gave birth on April 7 last year and will miss the usual iftars and suhoors at Ramadan tents, which were forbidden around the UAE to help contain the spread of the virus.

“I can’t say I am excited. I love going out and travelling and I have kids who I want to take out,” the Syrian citizen said.

“We usually spend Ramadan abroad, and now with coronavirus and everything being closed it will be difficult.”

She said it was bearable last Ramadan because she had just had a baby.

“It was also the beginning of the pandemic but now we are deep into this and it has been more than a year.

“Personally, I love family gatherings and all the iftars and suhoor, and taraweeh prayers at the mosque. I am really going to miss that this year. It will be such a huge difference,” Ms Mardini said.

The workers who keep the streets clean

Tadweer has completed its preparation for Ramadan and Eid Al Fitr this year. Tadweer
Tadweer have completed their preparation ahead of Ramadan and Eid Al Fitr 2021. Courtesy Tadweer

The unsung heroes who keep our streets clean have also swung into action for Ramadan.

Tadweer – Abu Dhabi Centre for Waste Management has a 5,085-strong specialist team that includes supervisors, drivers, sweepers and cleaners. Tadweer teams are preparing to unload 161,862 waste containers daily throughout Ramadan using 211 hydraulic compactors.

The teams will work in residential, commercial and industrial areas, and at mosques, government offices, schools, government hospitals and clinics, construction sites of citizen housing projects, roads, streets, pavements and parks.

Updated: April 13, 2021 09:29 AM

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