Ramadan 2014 is being celebrated with traditional fervour in Saudi Arabia.
Sizzling summer and 15 hour-long fast, is noteworthy this Ramadan
Influx of Umra visitors from abroad is rapidly on the rise. Over 500,000 visitors are expected in Makkah and Madinah every week. The Saudi authorities as well as residents are enthusiastic to host and serve the foreign visitors.
Incoming flights are packed and so is Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz Airport. The hotels and furnished apartments are getting full day by day in the two Holy Cities.
I was lucky to spend the first two days of Ramadan in Makkah Mukarramah. The Holy Mosque was jam-packed the entire day despite the scorching sun and hot weather. Taraweeh prayers witnessed over half a million participants from all over the world.
Representatives have reported that Ramadan is in full swing in Jeddah, Riyadh, Dammam, and other cities across the Kingdom.
The Custodian of Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Al-Saud has offered a unique gift to the expatriates. His Majesty’s recent decision to allow extension of visit visas to foreign residents has been widely appreciated by all quarters.
Life during Ramadan is peculiar in Saudi Arabia. Daily work hours are considerably reduced. One goes to work at 10 am and comes back home at 3 pm thus allowing more time and focus on the Ramadan rituals.
Fasting does make some people dry and lazy. However, within few days, those effected eventually recover and become steadfast Muslims.
Fasting is nature’s way of bringing out the best of one’s spirit. During Ramadan, people become philanthropic and execute the disbursement of Zakat to the poor and deserving.
Shopping during Ramadan is indeed an enjoyable treat in Saudi Arabia. The shops, markets, corniche and restaurants remain open from 9 pm till 3 am. Soon after Isha’ prayers, the main roads are packed with cars and Malls are filled with shoppers.
Unlike some countries, inflation is kept under strict control across Saudi Arabia. Average shopper receives hefty discounts, giveaways, and prizes during Ramadan.
Wiser house wives utilize Ramadan to purchase new furniture and appliances to re-decorate their homes. Inexplicable as it may seem, most Saudis replace their automobiles with new ones during Ramadan. Expatriates watch out for flight discounts since most would prefer to spend the coming Eid -ul- Fitr in their home countries.