Thursday, June 14, 2018

Eid Mubarak (Happy Eid in Dubai)

When working in an Islamic country, Ramadan means shorter hours in many occupations. At my work, dayshift runs from 7am to 3pm, which is pretty common across Dubai for the season. Even in the modern mechanized and computerized economy, it isn’t productive to work hungry and thirsty through the late afternoon. But for those straddling cultures, Ramadan might mean longer hours: Evening shift at the shipyard starts at 9pm, after breaking the fast with Iftar meal. As far as hunger and thirst and sweat, I observe that many of our workers are Hindu and Indian, as thus are not obliged to fast. (I have also worked with both Christian and Muslim Indians, too) 
 Five-day workweeks are lush; our workers get either Friday or Saturday off. When does the work stop? 12pm-4pm on Fridays. It’s mosque time. And a perfect time for independent contractors from France and England to get their work done without interference.
In the shipyard as with any big project, hemmed in by schedule demands, the objective is to hit to dock running like a rabbit. Essentially, start the big tasks and keep up the pace. When unforeseen circumstances arise: missing parts, extensive corrosion, it can be squeezed into the schedule. And when the project finishes on time, praise is heaped. Still have a month to go, though. 
As an expat during Ramadan, I go and come from work on dusty, empty streets with closed shops.  Which makes the “holiest month” appear drab in sunlight. One who eats or drinks during the day must do so behind a curtain. Social pressure- not co-workers, but the cultural norm- makes me lose appetite for lunch. After dinner, and a little recreation in the hotel, I tucker out in my room as the city wakes up. Ramadan means nocturnal. Sunset to sunrise, Dubai comes to life. I don’t like to work while tired, so I let the city go on without me.