Mercedes Vazquez
GM ESK Holding

I would like to begin by extending my warmest wishes to all Muslims observing the holy month of Ramadan.May God accept your fasting and prayers.

This year marks my 7th Ramadan in Kuwait. As a citizen from Spain and therefore European I have to say that I really appreciate how Kuwait allows for respectful interfaith dialogue. I think Kuwait and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries set an exemplary role in this aspect and for that I am personally grateful. In reality, there is so much that brings us closer rather than what sets us apart and it is through dialogue, building a bridge of curiosity and shared respect that we reach mutual understanding.

What is there not to love during this holy month? Along with the splendid iftars and ‘ghabgas’, Kuwait’s hospitality is like no other place in the world that I have experienced. I was recently chatting with a Kuwaiti friend and I asked how do you prepare for Ramadan? The response really stood out for me: “Well it’s easy I just prepare my soul” that made me reflect on the meaning of Ramadan: giving back and nourishing the soul through fasting, which are common values and practices to my faith and foundational root system as a Catholic.

For the second year in a row, Ramadan and Easter Sunday occurred on the same weekend, which only happens three times a century or once every 33 years. This rare conjunction of holidays is possible because unlike the Christian calendar, which is determined by the course of the sun and is widely used in the Western world, the Islamic calendar is aligned with the moon and the lunar year. Twelve months in the solar year last 365 days, in the lunar year, on the other hand, only 354 days. Thus the Islamic cycle of holidays moves across the Western calendar over the course of a good three decades.

On Easter’s Eve I was delighted to be invited to a Ramadan Ghabga, hosted by the British Ambassador H.E. Belinda Lewis,at the British Embassy, in a symbolic meaning of peaceful coexistence, meaningful understanding and inter-faith dialogue. A ghabga, a tradition that is unique in the GCC countries specifically to Kuwait, is a tradition of generosity and unity.

Over the last couple of days I also had the pleasure of attending Marriott’s annual ghabga that in my perspective was a melting-pot of diverse cultures, industries and backgrounds coming together in harmony for a friendly reunion.

– Exclusive to The Times Kuwait

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