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About Qatar

Ramadan traditions in Qatar

Ramadan is the ninth and considerably most important month of the Islamic lunar calendar. During this time, Muslims everywhere abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset. A time of reflection and spirituality, Ramadan brings together otherwise disparate individuals in the common act of fasting.  It is a time of charitable giving, and abstemiousness. The month’s start date moves back by approximately ten days each year, and is predicated on the appearance of the moon.  In Qatar, the Moon Sighting Committee in the Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs (Awqaf) declares the start and end to the holy month. Lunar months usually last between 29 to 30 days, depending on when the crescent moon is sighted, which signals the last day of Ramadan and the first day of Eid. This year, in 2021, it is expected from mid-April to mid-May.  

Each Muslim country has its own unique Ramadan traditions, with each community incorporating its own traditions and celebrations, making it a novel experience. Ramadan in Qatar is a magical time, with special decorations across the country and festivities that begin before the fasting even starts. Two weeks before it starts, Qataris mark Sha'ban (the 14th day of the Hijri calendar) with Al Naflah. Families prepare platters of traditional food and share it with neighbors and the poor.

The fast begins at sunrise, upon completing suhoor - the pre-dawn meal that must keep one going through the day.  Iftar, occurring at sunset, marks the end the fast with the firing of a Ramadan canon. While the provenance of this tradition is debated, with some claiming it originated in Egypt and others that it hails from the Ottoman Empire, the canon was fired so as to be heard near and far, to ensure everyone knew it was time to eat. In Qatar this tradition continues to this day, and is broadcast live on Qatar TV. To see the real thing, head to Souq Waqif, Katara, Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab Grand Mosque, or Souq Al Wakra.   

After the fasting, comes the feasting: from iftar, to the larger, more festive ghabga (another night time meal), the best of Ramadan is after dark. For a month known for not eating, there are a fair number of dishes cooked expressly during Ramadan. While each family has its own particular favourite dishes, some are a staple on every Qatari Ramadan table, gracing iftar tables for decades.  

These include:

-       Harees: Made from pounded meat with wheat, olive oil, and cinnamon.

-       Al Thareed: Crispy flatbread layered with soup made with either lamb, chicken, or just vegetables.

-       Al Luqaima: Fried dough covered in sugar syrup, usually flavoured with rose or orange blossom water.

The city comes alive after iftar, with most public places - shops, restaurants, cultural venues reopening after mostly remaining closed during the day.  Special Taraweeh prayers are conducted in mosques after the last daily prayer (Isha), with the aim of reading the entire Qur’an by the end of the month.

On the 14th day of Ramadan, the children celebrate Garangao, an exclusively Gulf tradition which is most prominent in Qatar. Occurring midway through Ramadan, it originated as a way to celebrate children as they attempted to fast.  Families gather at a Ghabga, and hand out the Garangao– mixed bags of nuts, sweets, sugared kernels, and other candies to children in the neighborhood, who sing the "Gara," a traditional song, through the night.  Gara is the Khaliji (Gulf) word for the sound of two things knocking together, connoting the sound of the nuts and sweets in bags, or the sound of knocking on doors.

Ramadan in Qatar is a wonderful experience. There are several activities and celebrations to take part in during this month; however, there are some things you should avoid doing.

Recommended

During Ramadan, most shops close early and open late, make sure to check the timings before going anywhere.

It is considered disrespectful to wear short or revealing clothing during Ramadan. Therefore, you should avoid wearing these pieces in public spaces during this month.

This is a traditional greeting during the holy month.

 

Not recommended

These are the hours usually spent fasting. Therefore, most restaurants and cafes are closed during these times.

It is considered disrespectful to play loud music in public during this month. Therefore, you should avoid it as a sign of respect.

 

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