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My Ramadan: Emirati juggles university, motherhood and faith

ABU DHABI // Hend Al Tair has her hands full this Ramadan.

The Emirati, 29, has to share her time between observing the holy month, her studies at Khalifa University and looking after her baby daughter.

Ms Al Tair is continuing her PhD research in Abu Dhabi, which keeps her away from her family in Ras Al Khaimah.

She also misses the daily gatherings for suhoor and iftar, her favourite times of the day.

“We usually gather every day. We share food, laughter, conversation,” Ms Al Tair says.

“In the evening we get ready for isha and taraweeh prayers. Once we are done we go and visit friends and relatives.”

But this year her routine is far more complicated as she now has to care for little Amna.

“After suhoor and fajr prayers, I prepare Amna for nursery and myself for university.

“After 3pm we get home and try to find a balance between Amna’s needs and the kitchen. I pray at home since Amna is not of an age to take her to masjid.”

Managing time is the biggest challenge, says Ms Al Tair.

“Having a baby around, spending time on prayers, family visits on the weekends and PhD work. How do you balance, organise your priorities and manage your time to make the best out of it?”

Ms Al Tair experienced her first Ramadan when she was 6, starting with half-day fasts.

“Gradually, by the time I was 8, I could fast the whole day,” she says. “I remember the first time I fasted until sunset. My parents and elder siblings were really proud and happy I could do it.

“As a way of encouragement my father told me and my twin and our elder brother Hamad that we would earn Dh10 for every day that we fasted.

“My elder brother Yousef also set another challenge for us to finish reading the Quran during the holy month. None of us took it as a race. Instead, the three of us would recite the Quran together in the morning.”

Going to mosque for taraweeh prayers is another special memory from her childhood.

“I still remember the smell of the masjid and how my mother, although she was praying, would pay attention to us,” she says.

“At the masjid old friends would see each other and chat a little. Finally, we would visit our grandmothers, where we would see our cousins. Maybe that’s what made Ramadan very special and sweet. You wait for Ramadan year after year and enjoy it.”

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(via The National)