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With shorter working hours in the UAE during Ramadan, most mothers delight in finding additional time to spend with their children. Filled with joy, these cherished moments also allow mothers to instil life values in their loved ones through several bonding activities.

Lina Riad Sadek, seen with her family believes in engaging with her children based on their age and interests Image Credit:

Lina Riad Sadek, 54, engages with her children depending on their age and interests. Founder of StuDIYo Lab, the region’s first design technology centre for kids, Lina is mother to three loving children: 15-year-old Ismail, Riad,12, and Jana, 10. From board games and other creative hands-on activities, as well as indulging in outdoor activities such as hiking and trips to the beach, Lina ensures the time she spends with her kids during Ramadan is fulfilling for both the mother and children.

“During Ramadan, we slow down and reflect on good values, recalibrating ourselves to be grateful for what we have and remembering those less privileged,” says Lina. “We reconnect over fun things and watch programmes together on TV that reflect the good teachings of Ramadan.

“My all-time favourite activity is just sitting with them and chatting about anything and everything — always starting with leading questions like, “What was the most boring thing about your day today?” I always get an interesting and willing answer from them.

“We also celebrate our kids’ good intentions, good deeds, and kind actions by noting them down on leaves that we plant on a Ramadan tree that we put up in our house,” reveals Lina. “This strengthens our bond and improves my children’s mental well-being, as they get an onslaught of media information outside our home. It helps recentre them and us as a family.”

Inculcate responsibility

Shortened work hours are a significant advantage for mothers during Ramadan, says Sara El Khadra, 36, a Moroccan national working in the UAE’s health sector, and mother to two boys aged 6 and 8.

Bonding while prepping a meal with her kids holds immense value for Sara El Khadra Image Credit:

Sara strengthens her bond with her children and promotes their learning and growth through various activities. “We also select and prepare meals together, and they help me set up the table (and clear it). These acts help instil a sense of togetherness, responsibility, and celebration of accomplishment.”

“We read the stories of the Prophet (PBUH) together. Reading stories from the Quran stimulates a child’s imagination and fosters a love for their faith, reading, and learning. This allows us to explore new worlds and eras, have meaningful discussions, and create lasting memories.”

Sara also believes festive moments such as Ramadan offer mothers an excellent opportunity to instil a sense of giving in children through acts of charity and kindness. “Besides praying in groups at home or sometimes in the mosque, we shop for prayer clothes, decorate the house, and cook special dishes. This creates a sense of excitement and anticipation, making the celebrations a cherished part of our family tradition.”

Many working mothers are also of the belief that Ramadan is a time to stop multitasking, slow down the pace of work and just bond with their children.

Sense of gratitude

Eliane Chalhoub, 34, is an account manager by profession and enjoys attending iftars with her children — 8-year-old JohnRalph Farah, and Maria Farah,5.

Mall visits and outdoor activities are excellent avenues for Eliane Chalhoub to bond with her kids during Ramadan Image Credit:

“This cultivates a strong community and togetherness among our family and friends. It’s a delightful occasion where everyone can break their fast and share in the joyous atmosphere. Plus, the kids particularly love the bonus of play areas and engaging activities like arts and crafts, often available at the restaurants and hotels hosting the iftars. It’s a beautiful blend of spiritual nourishment, social bonding, and fun for all ages.”

“We also enjoy visiting the mall, especially during Ramadan, as there’s always a variety of activities and shows tailored for kids. My daughter, in particular adores getting her hands adorned with henna designs, adding a festive flair to our outings. We also embark on various endeavours together, extending our support and generosity to those in need within our community.

“Whether it’s volunteering at a local shelter, organising donation drives, or simply lending a helping hand to neighbours, these experiences serve as invaluable opportunities for us to connect on a deeper level and instil a profound sense of gratitude for our blessings.”

“As we come together to make a positive impact in the lives of others, we not only strengthen our familial bonds and cultivate a spirit of empathy and altruism that resonates within each of us. Through our shared efforts, we enrich the lives of those we assist and nurture our own sense of fulfilment and purpose as a family united in compassion.”

Practise mindfulness

“Before I gave birth to Yousuf, I was guilty of trying to be-it-all and have-it-all, always multitasking and juggling different tasks,” admits 35-year-old Egyptian expat Soha Afify. Senior consultant at a global communications agency in Dubai, Soha says, “Yousuf (who is 6 years old now) has unknowingly taught me the art of slowing down, practising mindfulness, and embracing each moment since his birth. Now, I am more mindful and present, especially when Yousuf asks me to join him for playtime; it helps me disconnect and delve into his little world of magic and dreams. We share a unique connection, having a love and interest in nature, animals, and the arts and an appreciation for life’s little joys.

Soha Afify’s son, Yousuf unknowingly taught her the art of slowing down the pace of life to truly enjoy it Image Credit:

“We also decorate our homes in traditional ways, with the famous metal lanterns, Fanous, colourful Khayamiya textiles, and vintage ornaments that cherish the cultural legacy of our Muslim ancestors. Yousuf engages with us in various family activities, fostering a sense of togetherness, shared responsibility, and joy.”

Yousuf is not old enough to fast yet, but his mother ensures he is introduced to fasting and its purpose. Stressing upon the importance of giving back, their family also takes on the challenge of daily acts of kindness throughout Ramadan.

“Last Ramadan, we started and continue to feed the birds that visit our balcony daily. Yousuf also participates in school charity campaigns annually and enjoys this involvement, deepening his understanding of community service and fostering responsibility towards the less fortunate.

“We also enjoy cooking together, another great life skill that boys and girls should be taught so they can survive and take care of themselves well. We use Ramadan as an opportunity to reinforce the importance of having balanced meals that are nutritious and healthy.”

Promote spiritual growth

“During Ramadan, I plan to pray and read the Quran together with my boys,” says Farhana Rizwan, 45, a dedicated educator and mother to three boys — 22-year-old Raiyan, Hashmath, 16, and Amaar, 10. The Sri Lankan expat has been a Dubai resident for more than two decades.

For Farhan Rizwan and her children, Ramadan is also about strengthening familial bonds with extended family and relatives Image Credit:

“This Ramadan, with the Spring holidays perfectly coinciding with Ramadan, I am planning to set some goals as a family. Perhaps, we’ll aim to read several Quran verses together and attend Taraweeh prayers as a family. Working towards these goals brings us closer as a family and helps us grow spiritually.”

Farhana hopes to teach her boys something different by involving them more in helping her prepare iftar and suhour meals together, a fun activity she believes that brings family members even closer. “By involving my boys in the kitchen and teaching them how to prepare simple dishes, we can connect and reclaim lost time from our daily busy schedules. It’s not just about the food; it’s about spending quality time together and making memories.”

Strengthening familial bonds also involves getting on video calls to connect with family back home. “My boys are also involved in charity, and most of our family members live in Sri Lanka. I want to ensure they cherish the feeling of staying connected and providing support, both financial or otherwise, during Ramadan.

“We plan to invite them to our home for iftar during this Ramadan. When my boys see me practicing what I preach, it inspires them to do the same and strengthens our bond as a family.”

For mothers such as Saana Azzam, Ramadan is also the time to show empathy towards those suffering from the ills of conflict and war. Hailing from a Palestinian-Swedish family, the 36-year-old and mother to 4-year-old daughter, Nathalie, believes in a shared sense of grief for the children and people of Palestine. Her profile as the CEO and Founder of a premier speakers’ bureau in the Middle East has allowed her to gain in-depth knowledge into what is happening on the ground and as a child of refugees herself, Saana understands the importance of a loving family and the strength of resilience.

Compassion and companionship

“My background strengthens my resolve to provide Nathalie with a secure, nurturing environment filled with experiences that promote development, creativity, and well-being,” says Saana. She demonstrates the value of compassion that her parents instilled in her. “We do things like donating zakat, and thinking of those in dire situations is paramount because of our heritage and humanity.”

Saana Azzam loves to instil the values of kindness, community and sharing in her daughter, Nathalie Image Credit:

Living in Dubai also encourages her to foster a sense of community, as many live far from their families. “Understanding the value of companionship, we gladly open our home to friends and community members who are on their own. Through these gatherings, Nathalie learns the importance of community, kindness, and the joy of sharing with others, a value we hold dear.

“One of Nathalie’s favourite activities is participating in the Eid morning prayers. She joyfully dresses up in her Eid clothes, joins the prayer congregation, and embraces the sense of community and celebration that accompanies it. Additionally, she delights in giving out Eidiye to her friends, and in our household, she also gives it to adults because we have agreed that they deserve to be rewarded too.”