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Archive for the 'Islamic Culture' Category

When is Eid Al-Adha in Egypt? - Islamic Holiday Guide

What holiday is Eid Al-Adha?

Each year in Egypt, Muslims celebrate Eid Al-Adha in remembrance of Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son at Allah’s request, and Allah’s provision of a ram to sacrifice instead. This is one of the most significant Islamic holidays.

In this article, we’ll be going over the Eid Al-Adha meaning as well as Eid Al-Adha observances and traditions. At ArabicPod101.com, we hope to make this learning journey both fun and informative!

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1. What is Eid Al-Adha in Egypt?

Eid Al-Adha (sometimes called Eid Ul-Adha or the Feast of the Sacrifice) is the second-most-important holiday in the Islamic nation, and here we’ll give you some Eid Al-Adha background so you can better appreciate this holiday.

The day of Eid and the three days after are called the days of sacrifice or slaughtering. The Eid begins with the Eid prayer in the early morning, followed by sacrifice of animals. The reason is that Muslims believe this is the day when Allah commanded, as a test, that the prophet Ibrahim should sacrifice his son Ismail. But, Allah sent him a ram as a ransom.

For this reason, on the anniversary of that day, Muslims slaughter rams and other cattle and distribute parts of the meat amongst the poor.

2. When is Eid Al-Adha?

10th in Pink Text

The tenth day of the Dhu al-Hijjah marks Eid Al-Adha. For your convenience, we’ve provided a list of this holiday’s date (beginning on the eve before) on the Gregorian calendar for the next ten years.

  • 2019: August 11
  • 2020: July 30
  • 2021: July 19
  • 2022: July 9
  • 2023: June 29
  • 2024: June 17
  • 2025: June 6
  • 2026: May 26
  • 2027: May 16
  • 2028: May 4

3. Eid Al-Adha Observances & Traditions

Family Gathered Together

The Eid begins with the Eid prayer, which is performed in the open air in large yards or parks attached to mosques. Afterwards, immolation of animals begins in a method in accordance with Islamic law, which guarantees that the ram will not suffer and that all the blood will be drained out of the body in order to enjoy the healthy and delicious meat. Typically, people hire butchers to carry out the sacrifice as the slaughtering process is difficult and requires experience.

After the butchers finish slaughtering, the ram meat is cut and divided into three equal parts: One-third for the owner of the sacrificed animal, another for relatives, and the last third for the poor and needy. The poor and needy wait for this day to have the chance to eat meat that is too expensive for them to buy during most of the year.

Did you know? People always seize this opportunity of a long holiday, which sometimes lasts five days, to travel to some nice places, such as the North Coast or Ain Sokhna, to spend the days of Eid there. Because the owners of the resorts know about this, they always arrange concerts at that time.

You may also hear Eid Al-Adha greetings exchanged in Egypt on this day.

4. Names for Eid al-Adha

Do you know how many names Eid al-Adha has in Egypt?

There are three names for Eid al-Adha. In addition to the name “Festival of the Sacrifice” (Eid el-Adha), there are two others; “The Greater Eid” (Eid al-Kebiir) and “The Festival of Meat” (Eid el-Lahma). The reason for the name “The Festival of Meat,” is that the majority of people eat meat on this day.

5. Useful Vocabulary for Eid Al-Adha

Giving to the Poor

Here’s some vocabulary you should know for Eid Al-Adha!

  • بقرة (baqarah) — cow
  • خروف (ḫarūf) — sheep
  • عيد الأضحى (ʿīd al-ʾaḍḥā) — Eid ul-Adha
  • العاشر (al-ʿāšir) — tenth
  • فتة (fattah) — Fatteh
  • أضحية (ʾuḍḥiyah) — sacrifice
  • اجتماع عائلي (iǧtimāʿ ʿāʾilī) — family gathering
  • صلاة العيد (ṣalāẗu al-ʿiīd) — Eid prayer
  • ذو الحجة (ḏūl-ḥiǧǧah) — Dhu al-Hijjah
  • صدقة (ṣadaqah) — charity
  • كبد (kibdah) — liver

To hear each of these Eid al-Adha vocabulary words pronounced, check out our relevant vocabulary list.

Conclusion: How ArabicPod101 Can Help You Master Arabic

We hope you enjoyed learning about Eid Al-Adha with us! What are your thoughts on this Islamic holiday? Let us know in the comments! We look forward to hearing from you.

To continue learning about Arabic culture and the language, visit us at ArabicPod101.com and explore our variety of practical learning tools. Read more insightful blog posts like this one, study our free Arabic vocabulary lists, and download our mobile apps designed to help you learn Arabic anywhere and on your own time! By upgrading to Premium Plus, you can also take advantage of our MyTeacher program and begin learning with your own teacher and a personalized plan.

Arabic is one of the most difficult languages to learn, let alone master, but with enough hard work and perseverance, you can do it! And ArabicPod101.com will be here to help every step of the way.

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Give and Take: Secrets of Gift-Giving in Arabic Cultures

Give and Take in Arab Countries

1. Introduction

In the Arabic language, there are two words for a “gift.”

  • هدية (hadieh) is the type of gift that you would give for a birthday or Eid al-Fitr—a gift to celebrate a special occasion.
  • هبة (hiba) is a gift that truly comes from the heart—a donation, a sponsorship, even a sacrifice of some sort.

The language itself tells you how important the concept of gift-giving is in Arab culture. And as anyone who’s done business in the Arab world or experienced Arab hospitality knows, it’s an aspect that’s impossible to ignore.

So whether you’re preparing for a trip to Saudi Arabia or welcoming new Iraqi neighbors, check out the guide below to make sure you’re checking all the right boxes.

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2. Outstanding Gifts for All Occasions

Obviously, anything can be a gift when it’s among friends.

When you know someone well, you know what they like and dislike, and it’s not hard to figure out what kind of thing to get them.

But when it comes to strangers, you can just keep three things in mind: Food, Business, Hospitality.

  • Food: Gifts of food are safe, easy, and always welcome—though during the fasting month of Ramadan, it’s best to wait until after sundown to present someone with a gift of this sort. Offer packaged and easily shared foods such as dates, cookies, and sweets, particularly if the receiver has a family.
  • Business: The business-minded professional will always appreciate a tasteful personal organizer or business card holder, particularly in black or silver if it’s for a man.
  • Hospitality: Finally, treating someone to a business lunch or a friendly dinner—or a home-cooked meal, if possible—is truly going above and beyond. Refusing such an invitation might be perceived as rude, so a polite way to decline is to shift the blame to your company’s policy or something you have to do with your family.

Is there anything you should avoid giving? Certainly.

If your gift was given with friendly, sincere intentions, you’re unlikely to actually offend most people. Usually, they’ll politely put it aside and forgive you for your faux pas.

But of course, you never want to put anyone in that situation, so there are a couple of things you probably ought to leave off the shopping list.

Most everybody that knows about Muslim culture knows that pork and alcohol are forbidden, or حَرَام (haram).

However, did you know that many Muslims also prefer to stay away from dogs? This doesn’t apply to every follower of Islam, nor does it apply to every Arab, but unless you’re told otherwise, assume that gifts with dog motifs might not be so warmly accepted.

Art of Giving

3. The Art of Giving

Just as every culture has norms about gifts themselves, there are plenty of things to consider when actually exchanging the items. In Western culture, for instance, some personal gifts are inappropriate for men to give women or vice-versa.

But in Arab culture, gift-giving itself is considered too intimate of an act to be shared by men and women who aren’t husband and wife. If a man must give a gift to a woman, it’s more modest (and therefore more polite) to say that it came from his own mother or sister.

Even the act of handing over the gift is important. You wouldn’t like it if someone casually tossed an unwrapped gift at your feet—and in the Arab world, giving a gift with the left hand is a similarly-sized mistake.

As the left hand is considered unclean and associated with bathing, always use both hands or your right hand alone to give and receive presents. The most common thing you’ll likely receive is a business card—make sure you get this one right!

And lastly, keep in mind that giving gifts out of the blue carries an unspoken expectation that they will be repaid in kind later.

Gift

4. Conclusion

To say “Thank you for the gift,” in Arabic, use the phrase شكرا لك على الهدية. (shukran lak 3alaa al-hadiyya). A couple of well-chosen phrases in Arabic go a long way.

But it’s how you act when you give or get a gift that makes the most difference, not the language you use.
In Arab culture, just like in the West, you need to be sincere. Be generous. Be thoughtful.

If you picked out something cheap because you think it’ll help you land a business deal, the other person is going to see through that in a second.

So pay attention to the guidelines above, and remember the most important lesson: Give from the heart, and the rest will follow.

Author: Yassir Sahnoun is a HubSpot certified content strategist, copywriter and polyglot who works with language learning companies. He helps companies attract sales using content strategy, copywriting, blogging, email marketing & more.

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Customer Service in UAE: How to Handle Your UAE Customer

Customer Service in UAE

The UAE is not a big place.

Its geographical area fits neatly between Austria and Ireland on a list of countries.

And yet, it has some staggering numbers attached to it. One of the most interesting is that expats vastly outnumber locals—in some places, by a factor of nine to one.

That means that any customer-facing business venture in the UAE has to take into account not just the local culture, but a mix of cultures from all around the world.

As someone in charge of that customer service, you’ll be faced with an unenviable task.

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How is it that some businesses thrive in such an environment, while others fade away into the dust?

It’s simple, really, and it’s a lesson that can be applied to all aspects of expat life:

The flexible survive. The stubborn fail.

In today’s article, you’ll learn how you can best apply that flexibility to your advantage—in other words, how you can master customer service culture in the UAE.

First, you’ve got to learn about the people. Who is your consumer?

Expat Environment

1. Understanding the Expat Environment

It can be incredibly difficult to comprehend the kind of growth and population explosion that the UAE has seen in the last twenty years.

If you go back to your hometown after being away for five years, it’s likely to look about the same.

But just try and imagine that every single year for the last twenty years, your hometown has boomed in popularity. People have started moving in from every corner of the globe.

The familiar streets and familiar environment have all changed before your eyes, as businesses opened and closed, new houses and apartments went up, and whole new roads were built where before there was just empty space.

In 2005, the ratio of expats to locals in the UAE was already more than 3 to 1.

By 2015, the local population stayed almost the same—but the expat population nearly tripled.

According to the latest statistics, native-born Emiratis make up just 20% of the national population. They mainly live in rural areas, while the proportion of expats in the largest cities can reach almost 90 percent.

Who are these expats and what do they want?

Well, if you’re reading this article, you might be one of them. And what about the others?

Virtually every nationality has some expats living in the UAE.

The largest population group is from India, making up 25% of the expat population, and that group is closely followed by Pakistanis with 12%. Sri Lankans and Afghans together number more than 800,000.

People from countries across the Arab world such as Morocco, Palestine, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq form another sizeable expat group with more than a million people coming from these countries alone.

Another six hundred thousand are from just two countries in Southeast Asia, namely Indonesia and the Philippines. As Muslim-majority countries, these countries have close ties to the Middle East.

Comparatively few expats are from East Asia, African countries, Europe, or the Americas. The notable exceptions are China, South Africa, and the United Kingdom, which together contribute roughly five hundred thousand expats to the UAE. Let’s not forget—this number is roughly half of the entire native Emirati population!

Now, why are so many people attracted to living in the UAE?

Very broadly speaking, expats from South and Southeast Asia tend to work in construction, transport, or as domestic helpers. That said, it’s important to remember that some of the largest and most successful national brands in the UAE were founded by Indian entrepreneurs.

That includes supermarket chains, pharmacies, cosmetics, and even healthcare. Indian expats in the UAE enjoy a strong and well-established social network with roots stretching back centuries.

In contrast, although the population of expats from East Asia and countries in Europe and North America is relatively low, it may appear disproportionately high in the business world as most of these expats have high positions in international companies.

Virtually all of the Koreans, for instance, as well as the English-speaking South Africans, have positions in companies registered to their country of origin.

Lastly, finding the culture and language barrier far lower than in other places, many Arabs from neighboring countries choose to study abroad at the well-known universities in the UAE. It may come as no surprise, then, that a majority of them major in business.

2. Understanding the Locals

Something that might strike you about these demographic figures is that the native Emiratis seem like they have no sector left to dominate.

The fact is, most locals aspire to jobs in the government or military, as these are seen as much more respectable than the private sector. Some attitudes are changing, particularly with regard to the food and beverage industry as more local Emiratis want to present an authentic view of their home cuisine to the world.

Now, if you want to sell products in the UAE, you need to understand their culture.

Religion

Religion

One of the first things when looking at an Arab consumer market is religion.

It’s no secret that the United Arab Emirates is a Muslim country. Islam is the state religion, and almost all Emirati citizens follow it—let alone the vast numbers of expats from Muslim countries worldwide.

What does that mean for local consumer culture in particular?

You’ve almost certainly heard before how Muslims avoid certain products because of religious restrictions. You’re not going to make much progress with the locals if you advertise pulled pork and beer on tap.

Less well-known, though, is what Muslims do tend to buy.

Ramadan

What Ramadan Can Mean for Business

A study came out recently showing that in London—a city with a sizeable Muslim minority—most Muslims feel that the holy month of Ramadan is largely ignored by retailers.

Anybody who’s spent time in a Muslim-majority country during Ramadan knows that the streets light up with activity as soon as the sun sets. People can’t wait to treat each other to meals and buy each other gifts.

Cafés, too, become vibrant hubs of conversation late into the night. Some café owners report as much as a one-hundred percent increase in activity during the month of Ramadan—which, keep in mind, prohibits eating and drinking throughout the day!

And all through the year, Muslims are becoming more and more interested in consumer trends such as halal travel packages and modest fashion.

Being informed about and taking advantage of these consumer demands is key to creating a powerful brand that people can rely on.

Trust and Relationship

Culture of Trust and Relationship

Nobody can comment on Arab culture without mentioning how incredibly open, sociable, and hospitable it is.

Governments have even built tourism brands on the strength of Arab hospitality.

Part of that openness means that Arab consumers want trust at all levels.

Sometimes consumers can be apathetic about their purchasing habits at times and shop on impulse. Those traits aren’t absent from Arab cultures, but in general they’re a lot more rare.

Therefore, your UAE customer is likely going to take the advice of people they trust before they make major purchasing decisions.

That might take the form of a family discussion, a chat with a close friend, or a quick group text.

They’ll also want to know a lot about the product or service itself. If you’re in the auto business, for instance, you’re going to have to be prepared for your Arab consumers to ask a lot of questions about the particulars of the car and the financing.

Once you build up that trust, that personal relationship, you’re likely to keep that customer for a long, long time. They’ll recommend you to their own social networks as well—all because you took the time to listen to what they wanted.

Solving Customer Problems

3. Solving Customer Problems on a Global Scale

No matter where you are, your customer is expecting good service.

But what does that mean, exactly? It means that when the customer has any interaction at all with your business, what they expect is strongly related to their culture.

And not only their home culture; if they’re the international sort, they’ve built up an idea of what to expect outside of their home country, as well.

Let’s look at two industries—retail and hospitality—that live and die on customer experience.

Retail

Retail and Hospitality: Arab Culture

Arabs are used to a wide variety of choices when it comes to retail. Even in traditional bazaars, you can see the same types of goods on display from many different people.

For that reason, Arab consumers tend to be less loyal to one particular store if they can get similar goods in other places.

And because of a combination of the punishing desert heat and the Arab penchant for hospitality, the retail spaces themselves have to be welcoming.

The big cities of the UAE are famous for enormous and richly decorated malls already. Inside, you’ll find large open spaces for relaxation and socialization.

Customers from Arab countries are going to expect service that helps them out while they’re browsing and makes them feel welcome to stay as long as they’d like in the store.

Retail and Hospitality: Shoppers from Abroad

International customers from Europe and North America, by contrast, don’t quite have the same needs.

First of all, in some countries, particularly the United States, consumers are becoming more disappointed by retail all the time. It’s common to hear about American malls closing or selling off space.

To appeal to these shoppers, the retail space has to offer something that can’t be found online. Part of that is the welcoming, attractive venue, but another part is the service.

Such shoppers also expect that the service staff at any retail location will be open, friendly, and knowledgeable without being pushy. Attempts to make a sale by promoting another product with anything more than a slight suggestion come off as aggressive.

At the same time, these customers expect that any questions they have about products or promotions can be answered immediately—either by a clerk or a manager.

Now, when it comes to vacations, a lot of tourists love the idea of being in an unknown part of the world.

Even if the place they’re visiting is clearly a developed cosmopolitan city, they’ll be more likely to spend money on things they judge to be “authentic.”

They’ll love it if the hotel staff recommends a “local restaurant” for them to try, and they likely expect to be able to explore the area at their own speed.

Retail and Hospitality: East Asian Culture

Tourists from East Asia, however, tend to enjoy a more curated travel experience. They’re more likely to take package travel deals, and many who don’t speak any foreign languages are happy to remain with a tour group for their entire stay.

What This Means

And back to well-traveled expats—what they’re looking for is something that ticks the boxes of their home culture and fits with the surrounding environment. That means if you can find a way to present a pleasing “slice of home” that’s already integrated to the local environment, you’ve got it made.

Negative customer experiences happen when the customer is expecting a certain level of service and in reality, it just doesn’t live up to what they wanted.

People are different, and everybody makes mistakes. So this happens all around the world—and when it does, how are you going to react?

Language Is Key

4. Language is Key

If you’re not already one, imagine yourself for a moment in the role of an expat manager in the UAE.

Your company has brought you to a new country to make sure that things run smoothly and in line with the owners’ vision.

If there’s some miscommunication or lack of cohesion between the upper management, your workers, and your customers, you might be asked to lead a training session to help solve these problems.

Don’t do it in English.

If you really want to reach the people you’re working with and really understand what’s going on, you’ve got to let them communicate with you in their own language.

When your company is experiencing problems because of cultural miscommunications—and this is almost guaranteed to happen to every company with operations abroad—language and cultural competence is everything.

Whether you’re doing market research, employee training, or simple everyday customer service, knowledge of more languages will help every step of the way.

Even in highly multilingual environments such as the UAE, people still feel more comfortable speaking about complicated or personal matters in their mother tongue.

That could be one of the many varieties of Arabic such as Gulf Arabic, Levantine Arabic, or even Egyptian Arabic. By the way, you won’t find anybody who’d prefer to talk to you in the literary register of Modern Standard Arabic.

It could also mean one of the other widely-spoken languages of the UAE such as Hindi, French, or Tagalog. Remember, the service industry is overwhelmingly comprised of expats, and not just from Arab countries.

Seriously—people on every level of your organization will warm up to you more if you make an effort to speak and understand their native language. If someone has a problem with another worker or even management, they’ll hesitate to cross language and cultural barriers to communicate it.

That knowledge paints you as a savvy, experienced leader who has the brains and the dedication to really listen to what other people say.

And if you don’t personally have this language and cultural competence, find someone who does.

Multilingual facilitators and intercultural communications coaches can help resolve conflicts faster than you ever thought possible.

Open Eyes

5. Open Eyes, Open Ears

Here’s a tip that comes from marketing, but is equally applicable to any consumer-facing part of a business. In fact, it’s applicable to every part of life in general!

And the advice is this: You’ve got to listen to the people around you and be ready to adjust to what they say.

In marketing, this is obvious. Market research is a multimillion-dollar industry focused on just that.

But when was the last time a manager listened to their employees and their customers with equal attention?

Everyone’s got a story about a manager who barely lifted a finger to hear what the employees had to say.

They should know that that inaction is hurting everyone—because the consumer-facing employees often develop an intuitive sense for how to handle different types of customers. It’s a terrible mistake for someone removed from all of the local cultures to be setting the rules for employee-customer interactions.

People who have worked customer service for years on end can usually tell what someone’s complaint is without thinking.

That information is just as valuable to the company as a million-dollar consumer trend study. Making use of it is not only going to have a good impact on your company’s internal affairs, but it’s also going to increase customer satisfaction if you don’t force your employees to adhere to your own notions of customer service.

How can you apply this to your business in the UAE, and to the challenges of a diverse expat consumer group?

Understand that your employees may come from a culture that is similar to that of many of their customers. That gives them an inherent advantage in making those customers happy.

They should know how to quickly and easily handle customer interactions with polite, attentive professionalism—and as a part of that, they should be flexible about what they consider polite or rude behavior from customers. That’s where your cultural training sessions come into play.

If your employees can pass on customer wants and needs to the upper management and take direction from both sides, the company will understand the customers better and everyone will have a better experience.

In other words: If you can manage to instill a habit of cultural sensitivity and flexibility in your business from the top down, you’re guaranteed to do well with customers from the UAE, the Arab world, and beyond.

Author: Yassir Sahnoun is a HubSpot certified content strategist, copywriter and polyglot who works with language learning companies. He helps companies attract sales using content strategy, copywriting, blogging, email marketing & more.

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Your One-Size-Fits-All Guide to UAE Business Culture

UAE Business Culture

Picture a crowded Dubai street. What do you see?

Maybe you thought of towering skyscrapers, sweltering sunshine, luxury cars.

Who do you see?

Men in flowing white kandurahs? Women in abayas? Or a sea of faces from all over the world?

The United Arab Emirates is made up of eighty percent expats.

That’s an astounding number.

But they must be doing something right.

The average annual income in the UAE is nearly US $130,000.

That means that aside from a strong sense of business savvy, the expats living, working, and thriving in the UAE have something truly special.

They understand and embrace the local business culture.

It’s not an easy task.

That’s why we’ve compiled this one-size-fits-all guide to UAE business culture.

One article can’t capture everything. You’ll need to arrive with an open mind and be prepared to make mistakes and learn from them.

But this guide is going to let you hit the ground running.

Getting To Know Someone

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1. Getting to Know Someone

A greeting is the first thing you learn in any language class.

That’s because greetings are the foundation of any strong social interaction—if you nail the Arabic greeting, you’ve made a rock-solid start.

In the Arab world as well as in many other places, it’s important to build personal connections. In fact, in the UAE it’s practically required in order for business transactions to go smoothly.

And in this connection-oriented business culture, you can achieve that foundation by making an effort to remember people’s names and their social statuses.

You need to remember the guy you met in the elevator and the name of his cousin who’s looking for a job.

Pulling this off not only impresses others, but it also shows that you are the type of person who remembers more than just the company and the bottom line.

You remember the person holding the pen.

Now, when you greet someone, you’re going to shake their hand. If you were educated in American business norms, for instance, you might go for a firm, even aggressive handshake to show your power and stature.

But that doesn’t fly quite so well in the UAE. There, you’ll want to back off a bit and offer your hand as a sign of respect instead of strength.

Don’t be taken aback if someone offers you a gentle handshake—this is just something that carries a different connotation in the Arab world.

One more thing to note here: men should avoid offering or expecting handshakes from Arab women. It may happen occasionally, but as a you should avoid initiating it.

It’s just seen as a little too forward in the more conservative business culture of the UAE.

Men are expected to respect women’s personal space by not entering it at all, so the proper alternative to a mixed-sex handshake is to place the right hand over the heart along with a slight bow.

Women shouldn’t take it as a snub if their handshake is rejected; it’s coming from a place of respect.

This personal space extends to eye contact. It’s considered poor form to hold eye contact too long, especially with the opposite sex.

Eye contact norms do vary from person to person, so pay attention to each situation individually. Some people might meet your gaze every time and others might demur.

Fortunately, eye contact etiquette isn’t taken particularly seriously; just follow your instincts here to avoid an awkward situation.

Further, when you’re being introduced to others, you’re going to need to know their title.

Titles are taken seriously, whether they come from a royal family or a university.

If someone is a doctor, then call them Doctor, and if someone is a sheikh, call them Sheikh along with their full name.

Again, this is where social status and age play an important role. If you visibly defer to the authority and status of others, it means you’re accepting the cultural role that’s expected of you—and things will go smoothly because of it.

No business introduction is complete without an exchange of business cards. Yours should be high-quality and printed in both English and Arabic.

When you hand it over, always use your right hand (more on that soon) and accept the other card with both hands. Study it carefully and put it away with care.

The business card is an extension of the person giving it, so it should be treated as such.

Once the introductions have been made, what’s the next step?

Meeting

2. Setting Up a Meeting

When it comes to business in the UAE, the old adage is truer than ever: It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

That’s why the introductions are so important, and that’s why it’s so crucial that you remember the names and titles of the people you’ve been introduced to.

And keep those business cards!

Family ties run extremely deep. If someone comes from a powerful family, you can be sure they can use those family connections to get what they want.

And if you have the honor of being invited into somebody’s home, it means they’re potentially opening up those family connections to you.

Now, most of these discussions are going to take place over a meal of some kind. Certainly, if you’re invited to any informal gathering there will be snacks on the table whether or not negotiations are too.

You can expect dates, nuts, and strong Arabic coffee at a minimum. Your hosts will continue to refill your cup as soon as it’s empty—but you can politely decline by tilting the cup side to side.

At a restaurant, you should follow the general norms of table manners, at the very least.

That means no crunching your ice, no smacking your lips, and no elbows on the table.

These are by no means universal norms, but in the UAE just as in many other places, it’s polite to be relatively more reserved when you’re dining with company.

But take a closer look around you, and you’ll see that it’s also common to tear your bread instead of slicing, and that the napkin is always placed on the lap.

You’ll notice occasionally that lavish meals are provided for some business discussions. That’s a sign of respect for the invitee and should be enjoyed.

But when you’re ordering on someone else’s bill, it’s polite to order a relatively simple meal instead.

After the food arrives, wait for others to begin eating unless told otherwise.

And no matter how good the shawarma or stuffed camel looks, you absolutely can’t start unless everyone has arrived.

This is a way to reciprocate the generosity of your host by affording them the luxury of choosing when the meal truly begins.

No matter what you’re eating, don’t use your left hand to place food in your mouth or offer it to others. The left hand is traditionally used for cleaning after going to the toilet—and that’s the last thing you want to be reminded of at mealtime.

When you’re having snacks and coffee, you’ll quickly learn to juggle the coffee cup and the dates to stick to this right-hand rule.

As the UAE is a Muslim country, you should avoid ordering alcohol even if you’re aware that some of your guests drink.

Let the locals be the judges of whether or not to provide alcoholic beverages. The “cheers” gesture is still used, though, so be sure to offer a toast (of water, juice, or soda) to others.

If you happen to be hosting a private, informal gathering, you should definitely check with a local about the arrangements. Doing this not only frees you from the burden of planning (always a plus) but also helps you avoid any glaring faux pas.

The guests are sure to be impressed when they realize the work you’ve put in to making them feel comfortable and respected.

So what happens when the meal is winding down and it’s time for further discussion?

Business Etiquette

3. Business Etiquette

If you wake up late-morning in the UAE, you might be dismayed to read that the temperature is already a balmy 34°C (93°F). The last thing you want to do is leave your air-conditioned room in a suit and tie.

But that’s the norm in the Arab world.

The dress code is modest and formal virtually all the time. Men should wear suits and ties, and women should cover their shoulders and legs while keeping jewelry to a minimum.

It’s really not as bad as it sounds. If you shop around, you can find high-quality formal wear that looks good without constricting you.

And after a few months in-country, you’ll get used to the heat and how it dictates the ebb and flow of the day’s activities.

If you’re not of Arab descent, don’t wear the traditional Emirati clothing to a meeting unless specifically invited or directed to do so. Expats should stick to international standards of formal wear.

When you get to the meeting, you’ll notice a couple of differences from what you may be used to. It’s commonplace for locals to arrive a few minutes late, though you should strive to always be on time.

As the meeting goes on, you’ll no doubt experience further small interruptions. It’s seen as normal for people to check their texts or emails while others are talking or presenting. Other people in the office might come in unannounced to deliver a message or ask someone to take a call.

It’s important to take these events not as a sign of disrespect, but simply as representative of a different business culture around time and attention.

They’re not meant to test your patience; it’s just that your culture and theirs have different ideas about meeting etiquette. Be relaxed and open-minded, and don’t let small inconveniences cause you frustration.

Remember, if you’re a guest in someone’s office and they see that you’re uncomfortable with the way they do business, that’s going to start losing you points. If you’re frustrated at little interruptions, try to control your reactions and let it go.

Use this extra time to gather your thoughts or try looking at the day’s main ideas from a different angle.

Once you get down into the heart of the meeting, get ready to negotiate. Emiratis love the art of negotiation.

The ability to successfully negotiate in a meeting is a valued skill that takes years to perfect—and you’re the perfect candidate to test their skill.

These negotiations will always be polite and cordial, but you may find that there’s more back-and-forth than you’re used to. It’s not quite fair to label Emirati business tactics as aggressive; think of them more as principled. And you should be ready to step up to the plate as well.

It’s very likely that your discussions will last across several meetings. Again, it’s important to be patient and respect the time needed to make a decision. You can use this time to think more carefully as well!

When you finally come to an agreement, be careful with your words. Oral agreements are taken very seriously in the UAE, so be ready to back up what you say.

When it comes time to sign the contract, it had better not be different from what you agreed upon or the whole process might begin again.

Lastly, how should you behave yourself in the meeting? Well, here’s a few more body language tips.

If you end up crossing your legs, make sure you don’t point the soles of your feet at anybody else.

This is easy to forget (and easy to forgive as well) but it’s like scratching your nose with your middle finger.

Your counterpart might choose to ignore it, but then again, they might not. So don’t take the risk.

In some places, telling risque jokes is a sign of camaraderie. In the UAE, it’s seen as just plain rude. Avoid all kinds of rude language, even when you’re just chatting or joking around.

Above all, it’s important to stay relaxed with a friendly smile. Don’t fidget or glance around. Be sincere, be in the moment, and, above all, be respectful.

Once you’ve mastered the art of the meeting in the UAE, there’s one more big step you can take…

Learning The Language

4. Learning the Language

Many expats find it easy to live in the UAE as English-speakers.

The enormous expat population means that there’s always a market for local translators. It’s easy, affordable, and usually necessary to get a translator at some point in your career.

However, learning Arabic opens up doors that you didn’t even know were there.

Arabic comes in several main varieties. In general, Gulf Arabic is spoken in the UAE among native Emiratis.

The formal written language—found in laws and business contracts—is a more standardized version known as Modern Standard Arabic.

The differences in grammar and vocabulary are considerable, and it’s necessary to spend a lot of time on both. So what are the advantages?

Understanding the written Arabic language frees you from relying on translators and paints you as someone who is willing to go the extra mile to understand the local business world.

Even if you hire a translator or receive a translated version of a contract, it’s a huge psychological boost to be able to read the original as well.

And although most signs are partly or entirely in English, it’s a great feeling to be able to fully understand what you see on the street.

Using the spoken language is a mark of enormous respect toward the local culture.

Again, it frees you from relying on interpreters if you happen to be dealing with people who prefer to discuss things in Arabic.

No matter how good the connection is, there’s always going to be a barrier if your words have to be relayed through a third party. Most people don’t realize how much escapes them if they rely on others to understand.

If you can only manage a few Arabic words, that already sets you apart from those who live their expat lives in a foreign-language bubble.

And if you can stick to your studies until you achieve fluency, you’re sure to find advantages every single day, in every aspect of life.

5. Conclusion

I hope it’s clear from this short guide how each facet of business culture in the UAE blends together.

Without good knowledge of body language, you can’t read people and see how they’re taking your suggestions. If you don’t remember anybody’s name, you can’t make connections with them over coffee.

If you’re not patient with cultural misunderstandings, you won’t be able to succeed as an expat.

This is because culture is an inseparable part of everything we say and do. Everything we perceive as “normal” is only normal because our culture tells us so.

And if you arrive in the UAE expecting things to be “normal” when you get off the plane, you’re in for a nasty shock.

Instead, prepare yourself for success by being ready to watch others and learn from them—and by being ready to learn from your own mistakes as well.

As a foreigner in a new place, you’ll be given the luxury of understanding and even deference if you happen to make mistakes.

But the fewer mistakes you make, the smoother things will go and the more impressive you’ll be.

So pay attention to this guide and to others like it. Even more importantly, though, pay attention to the things you think of as normal or surprising.

Understanding those innate biases will go a long way toward helping you embrace the local culture at all levels.

And that’s what you need for success.

Author: Yassir Sahnoun is a HubSpot certified content strategist, copywriter and polyglot who works with language learning companies. He helps companies attract sales using content strategy, copywriting, blogging, email marketing & more.

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Arab Table Manners: Business Lunch Etiquette in Arabic Countries

Arab Table Manners

Do you remember your first time being invited to a meal in another country?

I was petrified.

I had all these conflicting thoughts and fragments of advice running through my head:

Leave food on your plate. Eat it all. Sit up straight. Lean back in your chair. Eat quietly. Burp as loud as you can.

It’s a challenge to know what other people might be expecting of you at mealtimes. Every culture has different norms about eating.

We’re sure you’ve read some pretty crazy things about food culture in guidebooks (or even heard about it second- or third-hand). Some information may have you asking, “They do WHAT at the table!?”

Who wouldn’t be afraid of something going wrong?

But it’s a challenge you’ve got to take head-on if you want to succeed at business in the Arab world.

And if you do it right, you’ll not only get to enjoy delicious Middle Eastern cuisine—you’ll also build strong relationships that will last your whole life.

The Importance Of Dining

1. The Importance of Dining

In Arab culture, a personal relationship is crucial to doing good business.

It’s more than that, actually—a personal relationship is the foundation for success both financially and socially.

If you know someone who knows someone, you can get your task done. If you don’t, then you are at a stunning disadvantage compared to those who are friends with others in high places.

For a foreign businessperson, this is an additional challenge. You’re probably going to be arriving in the country with very few connections outside of your company.

But don’t give up yet. The Middle Eastern love of socializing and personal connections means that you can ease your way into this world through everyone’s common language: food.

Inviting others out to coffee or on a business lunch is a key first step in building connections with coworkers or clients.

Getting yourself invited to the same is even better—it means that you have a chance to blow your host’s expectations out of the water.

And because this personal relationship (and any negotiations that follow) will take a long time to build, expect to have several meetings over lunch or dinner with the same client.

Don’t be hasty. You’re forming a valuable—and delicious—connection!

Remember, dining etiquette isn’t one big test.

It’s a series of smaller challenges that all add up; things such as how to hold your fork and how to accept food that someone offers you. If you can handle these with grace, your hosts will subconsciously begin to treat you like a local.

And so the pressure isn’t always one-hundred percent, all the time. As a foreign expat, you’ll always be given a little bit of leeway. Besides, your hosts want to impress you and make you feel at home as well.

So let’s get down to it. What are these business lunches going to look like?

Cuisines

2. Typical Cuisines Around the Arabic Gulf

Before you head off to the Gulf countries, you should have a general idea of the type of food to expect.

In general, Arab cuisine is heavily influenced by Persian and Indian cuisine. If you’re familiar with Indian foods such as naan and biryani, the heavily spiced rice-based dishes won’t be too foreign to you.

Hearing this, you may expect rich, flavorful, and even spicy sauces to accompany shredded lamb or chicken. Those do exist, but speaking broadly, Gulf cuisine tends to avoid thick sauces in favor of dry seasonings.

Anybody familiar with Greek or Turkish cuisine won’t have to look far to recognize the familiar pita bread and hummus, or even the shawarma or kebab.

But unlike Greek cuisine, there won’t be quite as much cheese or oil to accompany your vegetable salads. Don’t worry, though—the hummus is amazing.

Arabs take their lunches seriously! It’s not uncommon for restaurants to be busiest from noon to three o’clock in the afternoon as locals and expats alike go out to eat their fill.

A typical lunch in Saudi Arabia, for instance, takes the form of a light tomato soup, grilled chicken and rice, and a salad. It’s accompanied by a choice of sodas, or if the restaurant has it, fresh juices.

You might be surprised that portions are enough for two or three people in some places. This is because food is often served family-style instead of portion-by-portion.

To give another example, in Abu Dhabi you’ll find fish or chicken cooked in a clay oven, adorned with coriander, bay leaves, and cinnamon.

And no snack assortment would be complete without fresh dates, nuts, and thick unsweetened yogurt. If you’ve only ever had old, dried-out dates before, you’re in for a treat!

Of course, there are plenty of fusion cuisines, Western restaurants, and fast-food joints to satisfy cravings from around the world.

Indian food in particular is growing faster and faster in popularity as more and more Indian expats begin to call the Arabian Gulf their new home.

No matter where your business lunch takes you, we still need to dive into the question of etiquette. How should you behave?

Table Manner

3. Table Manners

In this section, I’ll mention a couple of things to keep in mind that are purely related to table manners.

In other words, this is about avoiding what might come off as rude behavior while you’re actually sitting down and eating. Later on, we’ll look at some of the cultural aspects of business meals in the Arab world.

Now, depending on what you’re eating, the first big shock might be that you’re expected to eat with your hands.

Foreigners sometimes associate eating with your hands with pizza or other party foods.

In the Middle East, though, the formality range is a little bit wider. It’s not too rare to see people leaving the knife and fork on the table, particularly if there’s a lot of bread and sauce involved.

When you do end up using the utensils, take a look at what everyone else is doing and follow their lead. Some restaurants follow the Continental standard (fork in the left hand) and some follow the American tradition (fork in dominant hand, left or right).

The reason the American standard is adopted is because of the Muslim tradition of avoiding the left hand. Generally, in Muslim and Arab cultures, the left hand is associated with bathing and cleaning after using the bathroom.

Whether or not that’s true for you, it’s part of the cultural context and often people can’t help but make that association. That means you should always avoid offering food to someone with your left hand, and that’s why you may end up putting your fork in your right hand at dinnertime.

Unlike in some places around the world, Arab culture tends to follow European and American norms about actually eating the food.

Stick to the basics: don’t talk with your mouth full, don’t gorge yourself, and don’t make too much noise as you eat.

Soups are a big part of Arab cuisine, and when you’re enjoying your soup you should sip from the side of the spoon instead of slurping from the middle. Also, try not to scrape your spoon or fork against the side of your dish.

When you sit down, fold your napkin and keep it on your lap—don’t crumple it up on the table or tuck it into your collar.

Sit up straight and don’t jiggle your legs at the table. But at the same time, relax a little bit and don’t be too stuffy.

Just like your left hand, the soles of your feet are considered unclean or even offensive by some more-conservative people. If you’re the type to stretch out and relax or cross your legs at the table, make sure the soles of your shoes aren’t pointed toward anyone else.

Some of these meals can last quite a long time, but avoid resting your elbows on the table.

And, even though you might see people getting away with it in an office meeting, don’t check your phone or answer any calls during lunch. In fact, keep that phone off the table the whole time. The table should be for food and food alone.

If you must cough or sneeze, turn away from the table and use your elbow. And if there’s some food you can’t quite swallow, try to discreetly remove it with your napkin. Better yet, excuse yourself to go to the bathroom.

Business Lunch Manner

4. Business Lunch Manners

Before you head out the door to your meeting, take another look in the mirror.

You want to be dressed as best you can.

In the Arab world, there are high standards for formal dress when out and about—which means that you should really make a habit of looking well-groomed at all times.

Women should wear formal business wear that doesn’t expose much shoulder or neckline. If invited to a formal dinner party, ask around to see what the dress code of the venue is, and keep in mind the more conservative mindset of the local culture.

Men should also aim for the formal wear standard—you should end up with quite the collection of jackets and ties.

If the mere thought of putting on stockings or a sport coat in the fiery desert sun makes you start to sweat, don’t worry.

It’s surprisingly easy to find formal clothing designed for a hot and dry climate. It’ll be made of lighter materials, and the cut won’t constrict your movement. Look around for what’s known as “hot-weather formal wear” and find clothing made of silks, linens, and cottons.

And don’t forget: air conditioning is ubiquitous! You’ll be able to find several escapes from the heat just by attending that next meal!

The question of whether to arrive on time or fashionably late is a major sticking point in worldwide dining etiquette.

In the Middle East, just as in other regions, it tends to vary by personal preference. The fact that you’re an expat raises further considerations. Often, locals will want to accommodate you just as much as you want to accommodate them.

All this to say that you should be prepared to make some small errors in this aspect eventually. Aim to be on time, but don’t be surprised if you end up waiting a while. If you get used to arriving late, you might make the wrong impression on someone who prefers to be more punctual. Err on the side of caution!

When the others arrive, you’re going to want to make some introductions if everybody isn’t already well-acquainted.

It’s extremely important to pay attention to and respect others’ social status here. You should always try and remember people’s names and faces, but it’s even more important when you arrive in the Middle East.

It’s seen as very offensive if you forget someone’s name or call them by the wrong title.

One way to remember is to try and fix the first letter or syllable in your mind. This is easier to remember than the full Arabic name, and the extra effort involved in breaking it into parts will help you recall the full name later on.

If you do happen to forget a name—we’re all human, after all—you can ask one of your colleagues or coworkers later. Or just check the business card. Business cards and their exchange are treated with great honor in Arab countries.

Your own should be printed in English on one side and Arabic on the back, and even if you don’t understand the Arabic language you should present the Arabic side first for others to see.

After everyone’s gotten to know each other, it’s time to order and eat.

Dinning In

5. Digging In

This is another aspect of dining where you’re going to have to be prepared for multiple situations and be ready to adapt seamlessly.

Some hosts will prefer to order for everyone at the table, and others will leave everyone up to their own devices. At a lunch meeting, it’s more likely that you’ll just order for yourself or even take advantage of the set business lunch special.

Try not to order anything messy or complicated like spaghetti. Nobody wants to watch someone chasing pasta around his plate while trying to close a business deal.

If you’re already used to ordering for others, then you’ve probably already gotten comfortable with the norms of business meals in Arab culture.

That means you’ll know to avoid ordering alcohol, as Muslims avoid it on religious grounds. You’ll also wait for the most honored guest to begin eating before you do. In the event that you happen to be the most honored guest, show your respect for those who invited you by thanking them all for coming.

Now, the art of discussing business over a meal is something everyone has to perfect on his or her own.

One key thing to note is that sometimes, the mealtime is set aside for the meal itself, and the discussion will take place afterward.

In contrast, some people prefer to complete the discussion as soon as possible. It’s actually considered rude to linger too long after a meal if you’re having dinner in someone’s home.

Fortunately, this is another case where you can quickly adjust your behavior based on the environment. If everyone else is fully engrossed in their meal, you should take that as a sign that discussion is going to happen later.

If you’ve been taken out to lunch, always try to listen and be respectful while others are talking. Add what you can to show that you’re interested, but keep your own points brief.

It’s a sign of respect to put others’ time and attention over yours, especially if they’re of higher social status.

If you both have specific goals you want to achieve during the meeting, then you can expect to spend about an hour to an hour-and-a-half discussing them.

You might come from a culture where efficiency is key, but remember that in the Arab world personal relationships are far more important than whether someone signed the dotted line today or tomorrow.

Be fully prepared to have a lively discussion, an excellent meal, and a friendly parting handshake—only to make little headway on your agenda. It’s just the way the world works.

When the bill comes, never assume that you’re going to be treated.

This is another case when the cosmopolitan nature of the Gulf countries makes things pretty confusing.

In general, the one who proposed the meeting and chose the venue is the one who’s expected to pay, but all kinds of factors can change that expectation.

Suppose you met over coffee, for instance. Or the venue was arranged by a third party.

The safest thing to do is to always offer to pay. If you’re turned down, it’s considered very polite to continue to insist, but after a little back-and-forth you can drop it and accept the treat.

Whether you closed a big deal or not, it’s good manners to send a quick follow-up message afterward. If you did make important progress, send over a small gift from your company.

This tiny act goes a long, long way toward building those invaluable personal connections.

It shows that you truly care about the person you met with, and that you want to let them know you’re thinking about what they said even after parting ways.

And no matter what part of the world you’re living in, that’s going to impress people.

These cultural do’s and dont’s about business lunch culture really aren’t too hard to follow. In most cases, they simply stem from treating others with the sincere respect that they deserve.

As long as you keep that in mind, you’ll be successful no matter what.

The Brides Festival

The Festival of Imilchil has become recognized around the world. The more common name of this festival is the Festival of Brides, it has been to attract huge numbers of tourist from around the world to attend days on tribal wedding ceremonies At the end of each summer. On this day the tribal women of that area will pick their husbands for the rest of their lives. The festival is a huge celebration in both Morocco and Imilchil. The legend behind the festival is that there were two tribes called Ait Yaaza and Ait Ibahim that were always in a constant war. Then a woman from one clan fell in love with a man from the other, but their parents wouldn’t let them get married.  Because they were not allowed to marry they shed many tears, and it is legend that they created the two lakes, Tislit and Islit, in reference to the two people that were in love. Because of this parents gave their children the right to choose who to marry.  This is not the only attraction of the Festival of Brides, however, there are also other ritual events, such as lamb offerings and henna tattooing.

Cultural Class: The Heart of Ramadan

Ramadan ( رمضان ) is a special month of the year for millions of Arabs and Muslims in the world. Interestingly, the start of Ramadan is determined by a combination of physical sightings and astronomical calculations done based on the lunar calendar. The lunar calendar being some 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar, Ramadan migrates through the seasons.

The most important characteristic of Ramadan is the fasting from the breaking of dawn to the setting of the sun.  While fasting has existed in many societies and in many forms, fasting
during Ramadan is not just refraining from eating and drinking but carries the added significance of worship, psychological comfort and morality.

Another important change that comes along with Ramadan, is that workplaces and schools change to special schedule. The workday or school day ends around 4:30 pm, giving time for people to return home, rest, and prepare food for breaking the fast at sunset. In Arabic, there is a special word for the meal during Ramadan and it’s al-’ifTaar, (الإفطار ) which during this time of the month unites families and neighbors in a social gathering to break the fast.

Different countries serve different food at al-’ifTaar. In Morocco, for example, people typically break the fast with dates and follow it with a warm and rich soup called “Harira” ( حريرة ). Some people even jokingly say that without Harira, there is no Ramadan! The end of Ramadan is celebrated with a 2-day holiday called “the Festival of Fast-Breaking”.

The act of fasting is said to redirect the heart away from worldly activities, its purpose being to cleanse the inner soul and free it from harm. It also allows Muslims to practice self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice, and empathy for those who are less fortunate; thus encouraging actions of generosity and charity. Many believe that feeding someone al-’ifTaar as a form of charity is very rewarding.

After all, the word “Ramadan” derives from an Arabic word for intense heart..!

Islamic Culture and Holidays - Eid ul-Fitr

This is a celebration that begins on the last day of Ramadan and is called ‘Festival of Breaking Fast’ or `Eid ul-Fitr. The celebration goes on for three days as children knock on the doors of other people and take chocolate, money and sugar from them. People take this time to forgive each other. The children kiss the hands of the adults and everyone spend time visiting with each other.

At the end of the fast and beginning of this festival, Muslims are obligated to repeat the Tabkir all three days of this celebration. People greet each other with “Happy Eid or Blessed Eid.”

The first day begins with getting up early and eating a very small breakfast portion. After that they go to the Mosque where they collaborate in a special Eid prayer. Muslims take this time to dress up in the best apparel; sometimes new clothes, if they can afford it and go to the Eid prayer.

After the Eid prayer, there is a sermon preached and then a time of forgiveness and assistance for the entire human race in the world. People sitting on opposite sides of each other then begin to embrace each other in greeting and love.

The ceremony ends and then Muslims all over go about visiting their friends, relatives and associates as well as visits to the grave of their loved ones who may have died.

Their fasting is a ritual that acknowledges the sovereignty of God and the weakness of man. So marking the end of Ramadan is significant to the Muslim religious traditions.

Eid ul-Fitr also symbolizes the significance of the Muslim belief that the angel Gabriel descended on all of Prophet Mohammad’s’ grandsons dressed in white clothing.

The Shia of the Iran culture takes this event very personal. They will go out of their way to give to charity and to the people in the Muslim community. They will give food to the needy and visit the elderly.

They will kill a young lamb or calf as a sacrifice and recognition of this important occasion. This is really very admirable to them since this kind of meat is an expensive commodity in Iran.

Muslim / Islamic Holiday - Ramadan Begins Arabic

The Islamic faith consists of different times of the year that the Muslim takes time away to worship. Ramadan is one of those holy times that are an important part of the Muslim beliefs. On the Islamic calendar, this is considered to be the ninth month of the year.

The Muslim people have certain religious obligations that they have to follow and the five pillars of Islam is part of the acceptance to the religion. Ramadan is one of those five pillars. The entire month is spent in a time of fasting each day from dawn to sunset.

The process of fasting during this month is indicative of the removal of their sins. They believe that their Qu’ran was initially sent down to the earth at this time and so they consider it to be important in relation to how they practice their faith.

The Muslims believe their Prophet Mohammad’s saying that during this month, the entire heavens would remain open to them and that hell would be closed.

Muslims usually want to physically see the moon to appreciate that it is the beginning of Ramadan. Because of the location of the new moon in different countries, the celebration of Ramadan may be off by a day depending on where the Muslim worshipper is located.

It is important to note that every year Ramadan begins ten days earlier than it began the previous year. This particular month is dedicated to extreme fasting and additional prayers.

Muslim take this month very seriously as it pertains to their faith and will not engage in any form of employment during this time. They spend this time to recognize the significance of important things and people such as the wife and grandson of Mohammad, the prophet, the Torah, Battle of Badr, the Psalms, the Qu’ran, and the Injeel.

Fasting is probably the most important of all events during this time of Ramadan. They get up early and eat and then pray, but before the first prayer is announced, there can be no further eating until the announcement of the fourth prayer.

They use the process of fasting as a way to redirect their minds from the activities of the world and focus more on their god than on their own personal pleasures.

Muslim Holiday / Arabic Holiday - Lailat al Barat

The Night of Emancipation or the Night of Fortune is the Arabic Holiday known also as Lailat al Barat. It is a Muslim holiday that is celebrated on the fourteenth night of the month of Shabaan as depicted by the Islam Hijra calendar.

It is a special day to the Muslim faith because it is also mentioned in the Qu’ran and is a symbolic reference that is authentic to the Prophet Mohammad. It is also known as Shabe-e-Baraat in India and Iran, which demonstrates a night of forgiveness or recognition of the Day of Atonement.

The Muslims think that this Arabic holiday is a preparation for them to seek forgiveness for their sins when they pray to their gods two weeks before the beginning of Ramadan. The Prophet Mohammad pointed out in the Holy Qu’ran that this is a very significant night for those who practice the Muslim faith.

It is a time for succinct acknowledgement that they need to be forgiven so that they can be in good standing when their creator makes a decision on their health, wealth, life, death and relationships.

Some view this particular night as a serious reflection of their past and future. They think that it is the Night of their Salvation and the importance of it cannot be understated for the Muslim faith. The night is celebrated with an expectation that their destiny for the future hinges on how they worship and ask for repentance. The women prepare meals and distribute bread to those who are poor.

The Islamic faith spans countries such as India, Iran and other Arab countries so this night is celebrated in these countries as well as others. People of the Muslim faith meet in different location to observe this Arabic holiday as part of their obligation to the faith.

The Lailat al Barat holiday originated from Iran where people believed that it is on this night that the dead are remembered and their souls come back to visit their relatives.

Legend connected to this holiday indicates that it is on this night that the trees are shaken and the leaves drop with names of those who will die in the coming years.