By Janice Ponce de Leon
Dubai: The UAE’s sweltering heat is something everyone has to contend with for most parts of the year. It certainly makes fasting this Ramadan doubly hard for most people, especially those working directly under the sun.
While there are people who are fortunate to escape the heat by being in air-conditioned work places, there are those who work outdoors and are not as privileged. Gulf News visits them to see how they are coping with the demands of their job.
Javed Aslam, 33, is a delivery boy for a food chain in Dubai. He said most of his deliveries are made during the hot 3pm to 5pm window and also the time when strong hunger pangs kick in.
He said the long drives under the sun can be unbearable at times. But it’s the short moments he spends at signals that tax him the most.
“When I’m at the signal and I’m in between two cars, I can feel heat from above and the heat from the car engines beside me. I feel like there’s a live fire just beside me,” Aslam told Gulf News.
“It’s normal to feel hungry and thirsty but God gives me help along the way, Alhamdulillah.”
Inside the food chain’s kitchen is Azhar Ali, 35, who prepares the food Aslam delivers daily. Like Aslam, Ali is fasting too. Although he is not working directly under the sun, he is always in the hot kitchen and exposed to something he should completely avoid — food.
“It’s very difficult because there is temptation in front of me when I’m cooking the food. But I just have to focus. I don’t taste it as I already know how much ingredients to put. So far, no one has complained yet,” chief cook Ali told Gulf News.
Bangladeshi expatriate Saidool Hussain, 38, is responsible for lifting and fixing scaffolding at a construction site in Al Barsha. Despite his physically demanding job, he says he still chooses to fast.
“Halfway through the day I start feeling tired and thirsty. But the company is considerate enough to lessen our workload a bit during Ramadan,” Hussain told Gulf News.
If Hussain can afford less work this Ramadan, Abdullah Imran, 21, a car washer in a Dubai mall, cannot. He earns a monthly salary of Dh450 plus a small commission. Working less means taking home less money.
“On the first day of Ramadan I fasted. But I almost fainted,” Imran, whose shirt and pants were soaked in sweat because of the heat, told Gulf News.
Although Imran is not directly exposed to the sun, the temperature in the covered parking area is higher than outside. Heat produced by engines remains in the area as air circulation is poor.
“Sometimes I feel like I’m in an oven," he said. "So at one point I went inside the mall for one minute. But because the mall-goers saw that I was sweaty, they didn’t seem too comfortable with it. I never did that again.”