”The month of Ramadan (is that) in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for the people and the clear proof for guidance and criterion. So, whoever sights (the new moon of) the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey — then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and doesn’t intend for you hardship and wants for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that (to) which He has guided you: and perhaps you will be grateful.”
Surah Al-Baqarah 2:185
Muslims around the world began the first day of Ramadan at dawn today (Thursday, May 17) to receive the blessings of God. From waking up in the early hours for a quick bite and sip of water to patiently waiting for the call to prayer at sunset to break fast, the days are never going to be like any other before for the observers.
What is Ramadan?
The Islamic calendar’s most important month, Ramadan, is a time of reflection and piety, marking the lunar period in which the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) received his first revelations. Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, the other four are Faith (Shahadah), Prayer (Salah), Charitable Giving (Zakah), and the Pilgrimage to Makkah (Haj). For observers, this period is respected by increasing time spent in prayer and with loved ones.
How do Muslims observe Ramadan?
The beat of the city slows down, and time is taken to reflect, refresh and grow spiritually. While different countries celebrate the holy month in different ways, fasting between sunrise and sunset, regular prayer, acts of charity and modesty are encouraged in an atmosphere of giving and empathising with the less fortunate members of the community during Ramadan.
Do I need to fast?
Regardless of one’s faith, Ramadan can be a special month in Oman. Fasting is not required for non-Muslims. However, you are welcome to try fasting for a day and everyone is respectfully asked to be considerate of those who are practising by refraining from eating, drinking and smoking in public areas during daylight hours. Non-fasters don’t have to go hungry: it is business as usual at many restaurants, and they need to merely pull down blinds to shield diners from public view.
What is iftar and suhoor?
Once the sun sets on a day of fasting, it’s a joyous occasion of eating and meeting. One of the best ways to celebrate the auspicious month is the opportunity to join in delicious iftar (after sunset) and suhoor (before sunrise) feasts with family and friends. Fruits, sweetened grains, yoghurts and puddings are the main features of a suhoor meal.
If you are visiting the city, you have the opportunity to celebrate Ramadan with hotels and restaurants offering special iftar meals. Iftar feasts, served at sunset, are your best opportunity to experience traditional Omani cuisine, as iftar tents and majlis present a plethora of mouth-watering regional delicacies.
If you’re lucky enough to be invited to an Omani friend’s home, be prepared for a night of celebration that often lasts through to the early hours.
With the holy month upon us, team Y rounds up an exciting bevy of events and activities, iftars and suhoors, gatherings and celebrations — all of which embrace the spirit of the season. Take a look.
Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa
You can have a lavish iftar buffet for RO19++ at the Bandar Hotel after sundown, and suhoor (minimum order is pegged at RO6) at The Tent from 9pm to 1.45am.
Grand Hyatt Muscat
Gorgeous iftar buffets are available every evening at Al Majlis-Mokha Cafe where you can experience a delectable range of oriental-Arabian food, including juices and laban, throughout the holy month of Ramadan. Relax and indulge in the air-conditioned tent for RO20 net per person.
Sheraton Oman Hotel
Grand iftar buffets will be available every evening at the Courtyard restaurant where a rich array of Arabian special dishes, a fine selection of hot and cold starters, popular Ramadan desserts and a selection of traditional drinks such as Tamar Hindi, Laban and Qamar El Deen awaits the diner. You can enjoy your food listening to authentic oud melodies throughout the holy month of Ramadan amid beautiful settings. Open every day from sunset to 9pm, the iftar buffet will cost RO15 net per person.
Hormuz Grand Hotel
Buffet is available daily from 6.30pm and is priced at RO17 net per person at the Straits Restaurant. Booking is recommended. There will be live oud performances.
At the Qureshi bab Al Hind restaurant, buffet, available daily from 6:30pm, is priced at RO17 net per person.
Booking is recommended, and group bookings for 15 guests and above will enjoy a 15 percent discount for the first 10 days of Ramadan.
Iftar at Omny Brasserie, available daily from 6:30pm, is priced at RO18 per person.
Offering Omani and Mediterranean cuisines, the chill-out rooftop lounge will be open exclusively for suhoor from 9pm to 2am. The rooftop eatery includes air-conditioned private cabanas and it starts serving a variety of flavours from 8.30pm.
From 9pm to 2am, Al Makan cafe will be serving a special menu for suhoor, consisting of ‘Ramadan-friendly’ items. Al Makan is known for serving continental dishes from all over the world, including traditional Omani cuisine.
The Indian and continental restaurant located near Panorama Mall will stay open from sunset to midnight. Iftar buffet will cost you RO8.5 while Sahur will be available for RO6 per head.
The luxurious Indian restaurant will offer a very special Ramadan menu that includes Karkade and Qamaruldeen juices, heavy appetisers and main courses, all for RO9.5 only per person (including desserts).
To avoid oily, unhealthy iftar meals, Healthy Kitchen will deliver you iftar two meals ((only 100gm in carbs each) in addition to dates, fresh juice and hot snacks for RO95 from the first day of Ramadan to the last day of the holy month.
The Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre (OCEC) will be hosting Layali Ramadan, an event where corporations, families, children, sports enthusiasts, and shoppers can gather together to rejoice during the holy month of Ramadan.
The OCEC will run Souq Layali, a market featuring Omani specialities, clothing, jewellery, beauty products, perfumes, home appliances, electronics, handicrafts, souvenirs and collectibles.
You could book Oman’s only air-conditioned football pitch at the OCEC sport zone. Also, you could challenge your friends to a game of table tennis, held in hall 3. Running along with Layali Ramadan and organised by the Oman Table Tennis Committee (OTTC), the event will bring together participants to play friendly games as well as competitive tournaments.
Game for it?
Win tickets to attend El Classico between Real Madrid and Barcelona, or any game of your choice, at La Liga by winning the FIFA 18 or PES 2018 PlayStation tournaments.
Co-located with Layali Ramadan and organised by Golden Joystick, the event will take place in OCEC Concourse 3.
Oman’s biggest PlayStation tournament will take place between May 24 and 29 for FIFA 18 and between May 31 and June 5 for PES 2018. There will be a registration fee of RO10.
For the lazy ones
Geek Owl Oman, a new group of board game enthusiasts, are holding daily gaming sessions, open for all during the holy month, where geeks could meet after prayers to learn new board and card games over snacks and juices at different locations in Muscat.
Dos & don’ts for expats