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Paul Booth

General Manager, Al Hamra Golf Club, United Arab Emirates

What does Ramadan mean to you?

Ramadan is an amazing time of year for everyone living in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), whether a Muslim or not, you can experience many distinct aspects of the culture. I would recommend taking family and friends to one of the many Iftar buffets available to us all.

Working at Troon golf courses in the Middle East and Asia for many years, what are your different experiences of Ramadan?

Over my time in the UAE, arriving towards the end of 2001, there has been a relaxing of the rules. I am not insinuating Ramadan is not as religious as it has ever been, I see it as a way of embracing the many other cultures that call the UAE home.

In Malaysia you can expect a slightly different feel, depending on which of the 13 states you are visiting, The country is multiethnic and multicultural, with three main ethnic groups – The Malaysian Malays known as Malay, Malaysian Chinese and the Malaysian Indians, each have their own religion and beliefs. Although each is very respectful of the other, they do not necessarily practice or celebrate any religious beliefs other than their own. Therefore, if you were in a tradition Malaysian Chinese community area there would be a lot less emphasis on Ramadan over a Malaysian Malay community.

What is Iftar? If is the time of day (sunset) when all those practicing Ramadan break their fast.

A normal day starts with Suhoor (breakfast) before the first prayer (Fajr) of the day which is current starting at 04:40. During daylight hours all those practicing Ramadan are supposed to fast, as well as abstain from all pleasurable activities, such as smoking and drinking. The main reason for doing this is to practice self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice, and empathy for those who are less fortunate, making us appreciate everything we take for granted daily.

As soon as the sunset prayer (Maghrib) is heard, all those practicing can break their fast.

What is Eid Al-Fitr and how is it celebrated?

Eid Al-Fitr is the official holiday to mark the end of Ramadan, many families will get together to celebrate. As with other religious celebrations there may be a sharing of gifts – children are often given Eidiyah. Eidiyah is a tradition of giving children cash to spend on presents or sweets at Eid, this tradition will depend on the family as it relates to how much, if any Eidiyah is given.

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