Muscat: While the general population in Oman is having a low-key Ramadan this year, some sectors, like automotive and travel, are celebrating back-to-normal with a lot of fanfare.
Oman’s Supreme Committee has banned iftar, while allowing the resumption of Taraweeh prayers. Restrictions remain on mosque entry for children below 12 and those who have not taken the COVID-19 vaccination.
Oman’s Health Minister Dr Ahmed Al Saeedi said recently: “Gatherings can help the virus to spread. It came to our knowledge that some government institutions and organisations have booked iftar halls.”
With life gradually returning to normal, many had expected that the iftar gatherings would be allowed. However, with COVID-19 cases still present among the population, the Omani authorities did not want to take a chance.
Many organisations, including big corporate houses, that organise iftar gatherings have scaled down their events and have instead opted for charity food parcels that are distributed during iftar time to construction workers, and to those who work at petrol stations.
“Almost all the leading organisations as well as cultural groups and clubs like Kerala wing, Malayalam wing and other linguistic wings of Indian Social Club (ISC) had planned for group iftars. But since the ministry has banned iftar gatherings, these plans have been shelved. However, some companies are distributing Ramadan iftar kits, which is either cooked food or groceries to various sections of people around the country. Even gatherings during Eid, are doubtful to be allowed.” P M Jabir, founder of Kerala Wing of ISC and a well-known social worker said.
Car showrooms back to midnight routine
The car showroom lane at Wattayah, in the capital, which during pre-COVID Ramadan times used to look resplendent with specially lit-up showrooms that remained open till midnight, are back in action again this year - after a gap of two years.
Pradeep Unni, who works for a major car showroom in Wattayah, said that while it is tiring to finish work at 12 in the night, it is also deeply satisfying to be back to normal routine during Ramadan time. “We start late in the morning since we finish our work only by 12 in the night. Most of the car dealers in the capital work from 9 in the morning till one in the afternoon, starting again after a long break at 7pm and working till 12 midnight.”