Ramadhan in Oman has been known for mass iftar gatherings sponsored by corporates and various charitable organisations, especially the blue-collar workers.
The GCC countries are home to a large number of expatriate construction workers and other labourers whose low pay scales do not make them eligible to bring their families.
During the holy month, these workers used to participate in mass iftars regularly organised in various parts of the country, which also allowed them to meet and make friends, many of them employed in the same or similar industry.
The last two Ramadhan months have been a dampener on mass iftars due to restrictions on movements and for the fact that many corporate houses are facing severe cash crunch due to prolonged closure of the retail sectors.
Apart from iftars sponsored by Omani citizens, business houses and expatriates, and charitable organisations at mosques, the Ramadhan tents in Muttrah, and mass iftar at the Clock Tower in CBD have been the prominent ones.
Feroz, a Bangladeshi expatriate, said, “We have no option but to prepare homemade bachelor delicacies with room-mates at home. Mosques are closed, and it is not possible to gather in large numbers with friends. So, we strictly restrict to our roommates.”
He added, “Though the authorities have stopped free iftar parties, I want to tell you we still get food prepared at home and cash to buy items for food preparations from some generous individuals in the neighborhood.”
Mustafa, an Indian expatriate, employed with a leading construction company, echoed the same. “My company used to conduct one big iftar party during Ramadhan and then offer help in cash. Mass iftars are stopped, but the company continues to make sure that we are not deprived of a good meal after long hours of fasting.”
Things cannot be said same of the companies. Still, many expatriate workers told the Observer that there is no shortage of generous individuals who contribute despite economic challenges.
Lubina, a citizen, said, “As I prepare food for my family, I arranged for them to be delivered to expatriate workers in the neighbourhood who are either employed for the municipal work or construction. It is a very challenging time for them, and we all have a social and moral responsibility towards them.”
A senior finance manager of a leading corporate house said, “Our overall spending has been slashed due to dull in business, but the management has directed that our employees should not struggle for food during the holy month.”
Several restaurants and hotels also contribute to offering food to those less-privileged without violating the Covid-related health safety guidelines.
Charitable institutions continue to receive donations, which they are spending on arranging the iftar meal boxes.