I read somewhere that you know you’re a long-term desert dwelling expat when you stop explaining to people that the weekend here is Friday and Saturday.
In fact, it used to be Thursday and Friday, changing in 2006 after it was deemed that having a weekend halfway into the rest of the world’s working week wasn’t productive.*
Every Friday at noon, Muslims go to the mosque for Friday prayers and the city erupts with noise as the mosques broadcast their sermons on loud speakers. If you’re parked in the vicinity, you’re highly likely to get blocked in as people flock to pray, leaving their cars in every available space, on the pavement, and on the sand.
The call to prayer (azaan) is heard five times every day (seven days a week) and I really enjoy hearing it when we’re out and about. It’s such a part of life in Dubai and always reminds me where we are.
The children here, for whom going back to school on Sunday is perfectly normal, can even be trained to come home when they hear the call to prayer.
“I have to go when I hear the noisy man,” one of BB’s friends told me once during a playdate at our previous villa, located in a compound right opposite a mosque.
“The noisy man?” I enquired. “Ah, of course!” When you live so close to a mosque, it is pretty loud – and the first call to prayer is at sunrise!
But, as I said, I love listening to the echoing song of the iman (and quickly learnt to sleep through the dawn call). You can also hear it in shopping malls, where even if you don’t practice Islam, it’s a signal to think beyond the shopping.
Have a quick listen below!
*As an aside, in several other parts of the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Oman and Yemen), the weekend is still Thurs-Fri.