Lootah Zamia mosque
People end their fast at a public Iftar at Lootah Zamia mosque in Deira, Dubai. Many low-income expats save about Dh500 on food during Ramadan, thanks to free iftar meals. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Are Muslims able to save extra money during Ramadan?

For those who are fasting, the daylong abstinence from food, drinks and smoking during Ramadan can technically result in savings. But this may not always be the case for those who go to Ramadan tents or host guests at home.

Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is not only a time for fasting but also for generosity and charity. The well-to-do get to realise how much they have and how little others may have as well.

I go out for iftars and suhours quite often to spend time with friends, which means I don’t save during Ramadan.

- Suhad Abu Kishk | Jordanian

Generous donors who supply mosques with iftar meals daily are indirectly helping low-income bachelors save money which they use for buying Eid gifts for their families back home.

Mohammad Sardar, 30, a construction worker from Pakistan, said he normally spends Dh30 every day on food.

“During Ramadan, I don’t spend much. I usually get my iftar and suhour from the mosque. I’m able to save around Dh500 or Dh600 in one month which I send to my family back home so they can buy clothes in preparation for Eid,” Sardar told Gulf News.

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Abdul Halim, a painter from Bangladesh, said he generally depends on a mess service at his accommodation for his food. During Ramadan, he visits the nearby iftar tent every day.

“I have to give Dh400 monthly to the guy running the mess. Since I get iftar from the tent during Ramadan I save about half of that money. I add that to what I send home for Eid,” said Halim who earns Dh1,200.

I’m able to save around Dh500 or Dh600 in one month which I send to my family back home so they can buy clothes…

- Mohammad Sardar | Pakistani

Pervaiz Bashir Ahmad, a Pakistani driver with a transport company, said he usually eats food at restaurants and cafeterias, which comes to around Dh400 a month. He’s able to save half of that amount during Ramadan and remits it to his four daughters and son for Eid.

For Karim Mohammad Abdul Samie, the free iftar meals is a lifeline. The Egyptian expatriate had been jobless for four months and has no one to depend on. “I don’t have any money. I am not saving anything. But getting this iftar itself is a big thing for me.”

We’re not saving that much because we usually have savoury meals with meat for iftar plus fruits and that can be expensive too.

- Favad Abdul Halam | Indian

The case is totally different for expatriates who have families in the UAE and opt to go out to dine with family and friends at times.

“I spend between Dh100 to Dh150 per day mainly on food,” Jordanian expatriate Suhad Abu Kishk told Gulf News.

“Since we have shorter working hours and I try to be as healthy as possible during Ramadan, I cook meals at home. But I go out for iftars and suhoors quite often to spend time with friends, which means I don’t save during Ramadan,” the marking and communications professional said.

I have to give Dh400 monthly to the guy running the mess. Since I get iftar from the tent … I save about half of that money.

- Abdul Halim | Bangladeshi

Indian expatriate Favad Abdul Halam, a site engineer, said much of his spending goes to groceries for iftar for his family and relatives who come over.

“We’re not saving that much because we usually have savoury meals with meat for iftar plus fruits and that can be expensive too.”

— With additional inputs from Sajila Saseendran, Senior Reporter