December 2nd, 2001

krazy kat

Calling all nocturnes!

Well, it's Ramadan here. In fact, yesterday, being the full moon, was the half-way point (seeing as how the Muslim calendar is Lunar). And while talking on ICQ with NailBunny yesterday, I realized I'd prebably never really talked much about it. So I decided it might make an interesting topic for the latest instalment of "Life in the UAE", especially seeing as how many of my faithful readers <g> are nocturnal.

So there I was acouple of hours ago, taking a walk along the Abu Dhabi Corniche. (This is a really nice 8km seawall along the front of the city as seen in these pictures). It was about 3:00 in the morning, and there were probably about as many people out an about as you would see at 3:00 in the afternoon downtown Vancouver, ie: lots.

Ramadan, as you probably know, is that month when all good Muslims are supposed to fast during the daylight hours. What this means, is that schedules basically become flipped around. People sleep during the day (meaning classes, etc. get shortened so they can fit a whole day's worth into the hours of 8AM to noon... yay!), and then are out and about at night.

At Iftar (dusk) when people can eat again, things go crazy. It's basically a big party for the first hour or two. Businesses everywhere put out coffee and dates and pop and whatnot for anyone to partake in free of charge. You can walk down the street and get invited to any number of random parties, by people you've never met in your life, just for walking by. There's big tents with free food, games, films and whatnot all over the city, in the parks and wherever. Often supplied by the government, who of course have deep pockets (see: "Oil Revenues").

But the really cool thing, is that since all the businesses are effectively closed during the day, they stay open late at night. Like, really late. So just as most businesses (in Canada, or wherever) would close at 5:00 or 6:00 PM, most here close at 2:00 or 3:00 AM. Restaurants, supermarkets, shopping malls, department stores, corner stores, you name it... they're all open until 3AM or even later (about the only exceptions are banks and some government offices). So you can go out in the middle of the night for a walk, when its nice and cool, and the whole city is open.

A nocturne's dream... any of you who are nocturnal, do yourself a favour and visit an Arab country during Ramadan sometime...
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