For many, Ramadan is a period of introspection and spiritual growth. However, this month is not just for solitary contemplation; it is also a celebration of community, family, and cherished traditions. Ramadan is an occasion to slow down, reflect, and rekindle connections with loved ones, reinforcing the ties that stitch families and friends together. Throughout the MENA region, Ramadan is a time of festive rituals and cherished customs that vary from country to country, and even from household to household.
Beyond these festive rituals, Ramadan is also a time of quieter, more intimate traditions. Families gather for iftar, the evening meal that breaks the daily fast, and mosques are filled with worshippers reciting the Quran. But there are also less visible rituals that take place behind closed doors, the gatherings over home-cooked meals, the lazy lounging, the post-iftar festivities, and people taking to the streets as they buzz with life late into the night.
Reflecting on this past Ramadan, a handful of creatives hailing from the Middle East and its diaspora shared their unique perspectives on what Ramadan means to them and how they observe it in their own way. Despite their diverse identities, nationalities, and lives, their stories offer a glimpse into the rich mosaic of experiences and traditions that make Ramadan such a meaningful and cherished time for Muslims worldwide.
Egyptian Creative Producer based in Milan
“Living in Italy you don’t really feel the vibe of Ramadan. In Egypt, it’s always so beautiful and there’s decorations everywhere walking down the street. You can you can see that everything changes around you – the beat, the mood of the people, the vibe of the city, the lights. It’s so wonderful. I really miss that so much. But here in Italy, something that I try to do as much as possible is have Iftar with my family and with my friends. It’s hard to get everyone on board for the same day, but we try to make things work. I like to plan our days around that. It’s so lovely for everyone to eat together. Everyone brings something, we cook something and after that we go to Taraweeh, usually.
“I wish that I would be able to spend it in an Arab country, especially in Egypt. Something else I try to do every Ramadan is to bring awareness to the non-Muslim community around me about Ramadan, what it is, why we fast what it means and just teaching people and creating a dialogue around our traditions and culture. I think it’s very important and useful to break stereotypes and ideologies.”
Saudi DJ based in Riyadh
“I set an intention this month to replenish my energy after the past few months, which have been a bit hectic. I moved to Riyadh during the offseason and the way things work here is very fast-paced, so it can be a bit challenging to find some quiet time for myself. It’s my first time alone without my parents, but I found a home here within the music community. That’s what’s really beautiful about our Arab culture, we are very family-oriented, and we take care of each other. We got together to celebrate our friend’s birthday last week on a farm. We set up a fireplace, played board games, ate good food, and enjoyed the fresh air, clear skies, and the beauty of God’s creations.
“I’ve been using this Ramadan downtime to reset my mental and physical health, going to the gym, doing breathwork, and having time for myself to dig for music, to explore new artists and labels. I think all these things are helping me reset my nervous system and refill my creative cup as an artist. Sometimes in the midst of the noise and constant performances, it can be hard to remind myself to take a deep breath. And sometimes that’s all you need to snap back to the present moment. Ramadan is special in that way. There’s a collective consciousness to not be so concerned with material things. And we’re all here to strengthen our spiritual connectedness with God and with ourselves.”
Palestinian Designer & Creative Director based in Dubai
“Ramadan is honestly my favorite time of the year because I feel very calm, grounded and grateful for everything and I feel the most connected to my Creator. So I always try to spend it around family members and visit as many family members as I can. I go to the masjid every day and I recite the Quran and just try to be very present during this holy month.”
American-Lebanese Artist based in London
“Celebrating Ramadan for me means implementing a new sense of discipline into my life, a deeper sense of gratitude, love, and connection to all of my blessings, my faith in God, and my connection with the people that I love the most. Tapping into mindful practices like praying, expressing gratitude, and spending time with my family and friends means the absolute most to me.”
Emirati Content Creator based in Abu Dhabi
“Again, the Holy month of Ramadan is upon us. I observe this month by reciting Quran more frequently and praying Tahajjud with my family. These 30 days are honestly the best time of the whole year, when the whole family gathers together.”