Ramadan 2021: Cultural Best Practices and the Impact on Relocation
Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, began on April 13th continuing until May 12th this year. Observed by Muslims across the globe, it is a period of fasting, with followers abstaining from food and drink during daylight hours. Here are some best practices for international assignees living in Muslim countries and the potential implications that Ramadan may have on global relocation programs.
The annual event allows those observing it to focus on prayer, purification, and charitable acts, helping them to understand the suffering of others, as well as to seek closeness to God. Muslims will wake up before sunrise to pray, eat, and drink to fuel their bodies ahead of the day.
Cultural Awareness During Ramadan
Assignees living in countries where fasting is observed should ensure they are culturally aware during this fasting period. When invited to a Muslim’s home or office, it is considered a sign of respect to politely refuse refreshments and avoid eating and drinking in front of fasting colleagues during lunch hours. In general, aim to keep business plans fairly flexible during Ramadan. Should a meeting need to be arranged, consider planning it in the morning as some businesses will close during the afternoon in line with employees’ fasting schedules.
After sundown, also known as iftar, Muslims break their fast with a traditional family meal. At the end of Ramadan month, a celebratory feast known as Eid al-Fitr takes place. Eid al-Fitr in Arabic means “festival of breaking the fast.” International assignees may receive an invitation from Muslim friends or colleagues to an iftar during Ramadan. Hospitality is key to building relationships in many Middle Eastern and Asian countries and, as such, an assignee should accept where appropriate.
Impact of COVID–19 on Ramadan
Every Ramadan, Muslins look forward to inviting family and friends over for iftar get together, or get invited by others for the same. Believers also look forward to the daily Terawih prayers, where visits to the mosque for prayers are done in congregation. In Islam, it is important for men to pray in congregation, as it is believed that when prayers are offered collectively, the rewards of the prayers are greater. However, this year, both gathering for iftar and congregational prayers are restricted as mosques remain closed for safety measures.
Impact on Relocation Programs
In general, Muslim countries will see businesses, shops, and local authorities operating with reduced working hours during Ramadan. This includes ports and customs offices, as well as removal companies, which will result in a delay in household goods shipments. The duration of delay will vary from country to country. Assignees should be made aware of potential delays ahead of their relocation to prepare for the possibility of having to pay extra to store goods at ports.
At Cartus, we will monitor each shipment’s transit time and update clients and assignees on any delays.
If you would like more information or need any advice on your international relocation program, please contact your Cartus representative or email us at email@example.com.