Ramadan, COVID-19 and the Digital Space

Ramadan, COVID-19 and the Digital Space

Ramadan, as we have observed commenced on April 13th, 2021 after the UAE Moon Sighting Committee observed the moon was out after their virtual meeting held a day before in compliance with the COVID-19 control measures. The sighting of the Moon affirms the commencement of the Holy fast which should end by the 12th of May, 2021.

The act of fasting is meant to remind Muslims of the less fortunate and to reinforce the need to be thankful. As one of the five pillars, or duties, of Islam, fasting during the month of Ramadan is mandatory for all healthy adult Muslims.

Going by the fact that about 85% of Emiratis are Muslims and therefore would observe the fast, there are other measures that require utmost sensitivity and that is the COVID-19. Although the UAE did a very good job of containing the virus throughout 2020, there was a sharp rise in cases at the beginning of 2021. As of March 26, the country has recorded some casualties related to Covid-19.

In this vein, this year Ramadan [similar to last year] may take a different toll to what appears as the pattern at which fasting would be considered likewise businesses going by the new world order. I'm talking about social distancing, avoiding gatherings and other protocols in compliance to the Covid-19 regulations while doing business.

It is observed that in the holy month of fast, most Muslims prepare their homes with new décor and furniture and considering the pandemic, a large portion of Emiratis would settle for the Digital space/Online as their haven for completing transactions.  Consumers are likely to spend more money online on home decor, from carpets and furniture to kitchen appliances, making this a busy month for many retailers.

Local companies, during Ramadan and Eid, especially home-based entrepreneurs will thrive. The Holy Month offers a variety of seasonal business opportunities that can generate profits for those with a business mind. Opportunities for business would always arise. 

The Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department in Dubai (IACAD) recently announced that all Ramadan permits will be revoked, which implies that the traditional mode of transactions are not feasible this period.

This, therefore, means that Brick-and-mortar stores will continue to struggle as the government ramps up its efforts to combat Covid-19. Malls, which are the epicenter of luxury shopping in the Middle East, will see a decrease in traffic, as they did in 2020. But if there is one constant thing in the last year, it is the demand for food. Fruits in season, chocolates, sweets and desserts, baked goods, and food baskets will continue to be relevant.

Food delivery services have grown in popularity since the pandemic. Since there is less time for cooking as more people work and study from home. This gives opportunities to restaurants and home-based businesses to offer Iftar and suhoor meal delivery services, along with takjil, spiced drinks, and pastries.

While food demand has not decreased, people do not want to risk being exposed to Covid-19. As a result, Muslim shoppers will be doing a lot of their shopping for Eid celebrations online.

The Ramadan and Eid celebrations this year will be different, perhaps less lively than previous years. However, Muslims will continue to observe the practices and traditions of the Holy Month, even if from the comfort of their own homes, implying that there will be plenty of opportunities for businesses this year. The key is to adapt and concentrate on making shopping convenient, safe, and healthy.

For every thriving online business in Dubai, I would suggest you kindly review your strategy this period and capitalize on this period of fast for unique and exceptional services. Where need be to deploy SEOs [Search Engine Optimization] and other Digital Marketing techniques to make you stand out and be heard.

Who knows, this might just be the quantum leap you had longed for?

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