I had promised @Alberto & @Nadia to write a post about the challenges of working in the holy month of Ramadan in Egypt. For the duration of June 18 - July 17 we fast everyday, abstaining from food, drink, curses and all other vices from sunset till sunrise. This being Ramadan, I took my long time until publishing this unofficial/unscientific personal account of working in Ramadan.
Days ( -10 → 0 )
Ramadan practically starts 10 days before, when traffic intensifies and scheduling meetings grow harder by the day. People start preparing for the fasting month by stocking up on food, inflation is actually at its peak during this time of the year, and set arrangements. A lot of professionals designate Ramadan as their yearly sabbatical and arrange accordingly.
Days ( 0 → 5 )
The first 5 days in Ramadan are a virtual standstill. First, people get accustomed to the fasting. Second, this is the time for grand yearly family gatherings, with all it entails in preparation. Reaching people by phone is generally hard.
Dilemma: When to call?
In Ramadan, the working hours shorten. Government normally operates between 10am -3pm, and the private sector probably between 9am-4pm or so. Traffic is generally hell starting 3pm, and only relaxes at 6pm, 1 hour before Iftar. Further, it is generally bad decorum to call anybody in the 3 hours or so before Iftar.
Iftar this year is generally around 7pm, and normally lasts an hour. After Iftar, you have intensive TV programming until dawn basically. Ramadan is the most intensive consumer month (ironically) in the year, and this year there are 6 high profile TV series that everybody is expected to watch somehow. Calls after Iftar are hit & misses. Meetings are generally set for Sohour (pre-fasting fill up meal) at 11pm or so.
Most people partake in the Taraweeh prayers, which start at 9pm-11pm or so.
Days ( 5 → 20 )
Life adjusts and it is as normal as it gets during the year.
Days ( 20 → 30 ) العشرة الأواخر
The last 10 days in Ramadan are even more special as they are the prime time of the year for prayers. Generally, people intensify their prayers that time of the year, and start planning for the Eid, the 3 days following Ramadan. Again, it becomes more difficult to reach people or arrange events.
Eid is the muslim equivalent of christmas and prime time for people to leave the city and travel. It is a national holiday of 3 days, with the weekend normally lumped in as well. Again, bad decorum to meet people then.
With people waking up at different times, going to sleep at different times, the 5 hours or so around Iftar generally unavailable, and the evening prayers it is on case-by-case that you can determine meetings or phone calls. Add to that the difficulty of fasting in the hot summer month, and you working in Ramadan is generally much slower than else during the year. This is also the reason the first community call in Egypt somewhat failed with no participants, and no other calls were scheduled.
The intent of this article is to serve as a knowledge base for next years down the row. I kindly ask @SamarAli & @Hazem and all other Egyptian members on the Forum to share their experiences and preferably edit this wiki, too.