Ramadan: Cultural Best Practices and the Impact on Relocation
Posted by: Farida Netarwala, Manager, Moving Services, India.
Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is expected to start on Sunday 5 May and continue for 30 days through to Tuesday 4 June (depending on the sighting of the moon). Observed by Muslims around the world, Ramadan is a period of fasting, with followers abstaining from food and drink from sunrise to sunset. We discuss best practices for international assignees living in Muslim countries and the potential implications that Ramadan may have on 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 increasing a closeness to God. Muslims must wake up before sunrise in order to pray, eat, and drink to fuel their bodies ahead of the day.
Cultural Awareness During Ramadan
Assignees in impacted countries should ensure they remain 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 for 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. Then, at the end of the month of Ramadan, 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 a key way to build relationships in many Middle Eastern and Asian countries and, as such, an assignee should accept where appropriate.
Impact on Relocation Programs
In general, Muslim countries will see businesses, shops and local authorities operate reduced working hours during the month of Ramadan. This includes ports and customs offices, as well as removal companies, which will result in delayed household goods shipments. The length of delays will vary from country to country. Assignees should be made aware of potential delays ahead of their relocation and organizations should prepare for the possibility of having to pay extra charges to store goods at ports.
At Cartus, we will of course monitor each shipment’s transit time and update our clients and assignees on any delays.
If you have any questions regarding this or any other aspect of your international relocation program, please contact your Cartus representative or email us at cartussolutionsEMEA@cartus.com.