Ramadan is well underway, one of the most important periods on the Islamic calendar.
In the United Arab Emirates, where the native population is heavily outnumbered by foreigners, efforts are underway to explain to expats the holy month and other aspects of local life.
“We have large millions of non-Emiratis living in the UAE. We have a very unique situation. It is very cosmopolitan. These people need to know about the culture of the UAE,” said Abdullah bin Eisa Al Serkal, Director of the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Centre for Cultural Understanding.
The daily fast from sunrise to sunset often ends with a large evening meal – Iftar.
Guests are invited to the Sheikh Mohamed Cultural Centre to enjoy it and find out more.
One Spanish woman – speaking in French – hailed a warm welcomes by the Emiratis.
“We have talked. We could ask them questions…They are people like us. In everyday life we don’t have a big opportunity to talk to them so that is interesting,” she said.
“I loved how open and hospitable everyone was,” said another expat.
“I think it made the Emirati people seem more humane or typical like us.”
“It is about integration in our community,” a third foreign woman added.
“We live here in Dubai. And It is all about…communities living in harmony, peace and love and harmony.”
Foreigners in the UAE range from low-paid construction workers from south Asia, to top executives.
Not all will get the chance to visit the cultural centre, but those who do seem to find it a nourishing experience.