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Maktoob Business: Ramadan Continues to Inspire the Faithful Throughout the Arab World

An overwhelming 96% of Muslim Arabs are observing the Ramadan fast,

89% view Ramadan as a yearly lesson in self-restraint and discipline,

and 71% believe the Holy Month allows them to feel a sense of solidarity and brotherhood with fellow Muslims.

However, as restaurants and hotels region-wide tout their special Ramadan iftar and suhur promotions, a big majority (67%) also feels that Ramadan is becoming a bit too commercial.

These were among the findings of an extensive region-wide survey conducted by Maktoob Research on the attitudes and perceptions of the faithful vis-à-vis Ramadan traditions and practices. The survey, conducted during the month of August, just prior to the beginning of the holy month, canvassed the opinions of 6,128 adult Muslims from across the Arab world. Announcing the findings, Tamara Deprez, Director of Maktoob Research, said, “The study throws light on what Ramadan means today to followers of Islam, and how they perceive the customs and practices associated with the Holy Month. The survey’s findings show that despite the pace of modern life and the changes in people’s lifestyle, the Arab world retains its spiritual essence and remains largely tradition-bound where matters of faith are concerned – more so during the Holy Month of Ramadan.”

The Maktoob Research survey threw up several interesting findings; 62% of respondents were of the view that non-Muslims living in Arab countries should not eat or drink in public during Ramadan, while 52% held that all restaurants should be closed during the day – even to non-Muslims – to respect the observance of Ramadan.

74% of respondents said they read the entire Quran during the month of Ramadan, while – despite the hugely popular Ramadan TV serials — 43% said that overall, they watch television less often during the Holy Month.

In regards to the methodology employed to determine the commencement of the Holy Month, 62% of respondents favored the time-honored tradition of moon-sighting by the naked eye, although alternative techniques such as declaration by scholars and astronomical calculation also found significant approval.

Interestingly, 79% of respondents said they are keen to receive Islamic content on their mobile phones during the month of Ramadan, with Duas, Hadith, prayer timings and Quran verses emerging as the most preferred content choices.

A majority of respondents preferred to celebrate Iftar with family at home, but there were also sizeable enough sections that preferred to break fast alongside friends or by attending a religious ceremony.

In other findings, 83% of respondents said they planned to make a special gesture towards family or friends during the month of Ramadan or during Eid-al-Fitr, a majority of them saying the gesture would likely involve giving away of money (Eidyeh).

Surprisingly, all 760 respondents from Morocco replied in the affirmative when asked if they intend to observe fasting during Ramadan this year, whilst 99% of respondents in Oman, KSA, Qatar and Egypt, and 85% of UAE Muslims, said they would take to fasting during the Holy Month.

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