Dubai: Filipino expat Christopher Inciong and wife Christine count Ramadan as the most blessed month in the year.
It is that time of the year when the working couple gets more time off from work which they spend with their two boys, seven-year-old Uno Inigo, and one-year-old Nico Indigo.
Christopher is an assistant marketing manager with a tyre and battery manufacturing company, and Christine an executive assistant with a multinational professional service company.
The shorter working hours in Ramadan mean the couple devote themselves to creating more opportunities to spend time with their children.
“We are able to go to the park and the beach even on weekdays. At other times of the year, we are able to do this only on weekends,” said Christopher.
“Uno had exams during the past two weeks and I could spend more time helping him with his studies,” added Christine.
The shorter working hours also enable her to cook healthy meals for her family every day during Ramadan, as well as do more household chores.
“We also have more time for grocery shopping. Otherwise, we are forced to buy food from outside more often,” said Christine, who has a nanny to take care of her kids when she is at work.
But what does not change through the year is their tradition of eating together as a family at dinner, said Christopher, who also volunteers for the Guru Nanak Darbar Gurudwara Sikh Temple in Jebel Ali.
Be it for religious rituals or personal affairs, Christopher said Ramadan gives the best gift of time to families in the UAE.
“Time is something that cannot be bought no matter who you are,” said Christopher.
We are able to go to the park and the beach even during the week days. At other times of the year, we are able to do this only on weekends.”
- Christine Inciong | Executive assistant
For example, during this month, his commute time from Jebel Ali, where his office is located, to his home in Al Hamriya falls to 45 minutes compared to the two hours it takes in other months.
“Traffic during the peak hours is reduced.”
Christopher finds a great deal of inspiration in his colleagues at work who go through the day cheerfully despite the fact that they are fasting.
“People are friendlier and the openness and tolerance is more visible during Ramadan. Even the behaviour of motorists has changed over the years. Earlier, we would see people driving home in a rush, but now I feel that people are more aware that during Ramadan they have to be extra cautious and more disciplined.”