By Nohad Mouawad
Ramadan is here, and as they say “Hala bi Ramadan,” or Welcome Ramadan! The Muslim Holy Month is a special time when families and friends gather and observe their faith through prayer, charity and fasting. Living in the UAE, whether you are Muslim or not, this holiday will touch your home, as it should. Dubai is multicultural and the right place to expose kids to other cultures, especially the local one.
For those observing and celebrating, you want to keep kids busy, happy and make memories so Ramadan becomes a meaningful, happy and blessed time in their lives. For those who don’t observe Ramadan, you can still expose your kids to the holiday’s meaning and traditions as an important cultural experience.
It can also be quite challenging to be a mom during Ramadan, and to balance all the cooking, hosting and preparations with the kids’ needs, as well as fasting. You want your kids to have a memorable and blessed Holy Month, but you also have a lot on your plate to handle. We have a few ideas that can help you not only get through the month but also enjoy it with your family.
Get the Kids Involved: You may be the one in charge of the menu, cooking and hosting on many nights of the month of Ramadan, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get your kids involved. They can help you with everything from menu ideas, to setting the table, decorating, and even preparing small and simple appetizers, depending on their age. Kids aged 3 and up can learn to set a simple table, even if it’s just the kids’ table at first. Teach your son or daughter where to place the fork and knife, how to fold a napkin in half, and where the water glass goes. By repeating this every year, they will learn a valuable life skill and they will be able to help you in the future. To get them even more involved in the kitchen prep, teach them how to help you make different appetizers and simple dishes that they can actually serve to family and friends proudly. You can also find some kid-friendly Ramadan recipes on QiDZ that will give them some inspiration in the kitchen.
Keep The Kids Busy: With school hours shortened, and the kids coming home early, while you’re busy cooking and also fasting, the day can seem so long in the slow crawl to Iftar. That’s why it’s a great idea to take or send the kids with another adult to the many play areas around and even sign them up for special seasonal activities. But don’t worry – we’ve got you covered! Look out for the coming QiDZ Ramadan pass that gets you a super deal on 5 most favorite play areas for you to visit during weekdays. The kids will be having so much fun that they will look forward to this season every year, and you will be able to get much more done and maybe even have some time to rest.
Let the Kids Watch TV: Ramadan TV shows were created for a reason, and there’s no need to feel guilty if the kids get some extra screen time when it’s hot midday. When they get home from school and activities, it’s normal to put on an age-appropriate show or movie. Bonus points if you change the language to Arabic. Now they’re learning! MBC Shahid TV has free video-on-demand where kids can watch the best Ramadan series.
On some nights during Ramadan, you will also want to gather round as a family after Iftar to watch one of the popular movies or series being shown, if your kids are old enough to follow. These cozy moments on the couch are ones they will never forget.
Start Ramadan Traditions: Kids appreciate different seasons and celebrations best when we make certain traditions around them. They can do easy Ramadan crafts and coloring at home, with your help or independently, depending on their age. They can make Ramadan lanterns or and use these to decorate the house. On QiDZ you can find free downloadable crafts from a Ramadan calendar, to Ramadan bunting and lanterns that are so easy for kids to follow! Once they’ve done it once, they will want to do it every year, and it will become a family tradition easily.
Make Ramadan Meaningful for the Kids: Ramadan isn’t just a time to get the kids involved in the cooking and decorating, it’s also a time for every family in the UAE to get their kids involved in the charity aspect of Ramadan. Have your kids gather donations and clothes for local charities and food banks and explain to them the importance of giving and volunteering, and about how not every family is lucky enough to have a full meal to eat each night. You will find animated videos for children on QiDZ focusing on the meaning of fasting and charity during Ramadan.
Celebrate Together: Every evening after Iftar, is the perfect time to get out and enjoy everything to see and do in the UAE during Ramadan. Starting tonight, kids can witness the firing of the Ramadan Cannons at different locations across the UAE. The firing will mark the beginning and end of the Holy Month, as well as iftar each night. The Ramadan Cannons are something very special and impressive for kids to witness. There are plenty of events on that are great for kids and families, including: the Ramadan Night Market at World Trade Center with lots of innovative products for sale, Hai Ramadan in Expo City where families can experience a journey across the Islamic world from the UAE to the Levant, North Africa and Asia. On the 1st, 8th and 15th of April there will be stunning fireworks displays lighting up Dubai’s skies, and definitely a must-see for kids and a memorable experience. At Mercato mall they’ve got a full Ramadan program lined up with Aladdin shows, story time, and arts and crafts for the kids. You can even drop off your charity donations at Mercato Mall. If you’re looking for an outing, something delicious to eat, or you just get tired of cooking this Ramadan, grab Iftar or Suhoor at the Ramadan Street Food Festival in Al Karama, a new foodie event this year with over 70 food stalls!
At Ahmed Al Habbai Mosque in Al Khawaneej, visitors can see light displays and lanterns being sent off into the sky, among other celebrations that showcase Emirati traditions in a historical setting. All throughout the Holy Month, Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, in Bur Dubai, hosts open doors where visitors can experience Athan (call to prayer), breaking of the fast with coffee and dates, and a traditional Emirati iftar, as well as special kids activities.
Ramadan is a blessed time, whether you are fasting, gathering and celebrating, or just learning and opening your eyes to the wonderful values and culture, there is so much to take part in this Ramadan in the UAE.
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