Lanterns reflect Ramadan glory as decoration business thrives in Saudi Arabia

Ramadan decorations are impossible to miss in the weeks leading up to the holy month. (Shutterstock photo)
Updated 11 May 2019
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Lanterns reflect Ramadan glory as decoration business thrives in Saudi Arabia

  • Abu riyaleen stores selling affordable and readily available lights boost domestic production
  • The streets are lit up with crescent moons and twinkling lights. And every hotel worth its salt has an iftar tent set up for patrons to enjoy

RIYADH: One of the most beloved traditions of Ramadan all over the Muslim world is decorating for the holy month. Lanterns bedeck almost every household during the season. 

The streets are lit up with crescent moons and twinkling lights. And every hotel worth its salt has an iftar tent set up for patrons to enjoy. 

It’s a time of celebration, and what better way to express one’s joy?

Ramadan decorations are impossible to miss in the weeks leading up to the holy month. From your local supermarket, to high-end furniture stores, down to the humble abu riyaleen (dollar store), Ramadan decorations are on sale everywhere you go, giving off festive vibes to whoever may find themselves out shopping before the month begins.

Of course, abu riyaleen are the number one source of Ramadan decorations in the Kingdom. Cheap, readily available, and with one in almost every neighborhood, they make for a prime location for Ramadan shoppers.

However, Al-Watan newspaper reports that most abu riyaleen stores significantly increase the prices of their Ramadan items during the season, with lanterns costing between SR20-60 ($5-16) which is almost double the cost in the off-season. Traditional fabrics, normally SR5 per meter, triple in price to SR15 in the weeks leading up to and during Ramadan.

Even then, abu riyaleen items are more affordable than those you might find elsewhere. 

Hypermarket chain Danube has a Ramadan selection on display as well, with elaborate lanterns that can go up in price to over SR300. 

However, the noticeable difference in quality is reason enough to make up for that.

Ramadan decorations are impossible to miss in the weeks leading up to the holy month. (Shutterstock photo)

Furniture stores are also prime locations to scout for seasonal decorations. 

Brands like Centrepoint, Nice and Saco all have lanterns of different sizes and colors on sale, as well as other staples such as string lights.

Those outside of Saudi Arabia might think they are missing out, but globalization has come a long way in the past few years, and people have options now they did not have years ago.

US retail chain Party City, whose stores specialize in selling party items such as decorations and costumes, reportedly became the first American retailer to offer Ramadan and Eid-themed items in their online and physical stores in 2018. 

Customers are able to purchase disposable tableware, balloons, and a “Countdown to Eid” calendar, amongst other items. 

For the 3.45 million Muslims living in the US (according to the Pew Research Center), it is probably better late than never.

Eidparty.co.uk is an option for the approximately 3.3 million Muslims in the UK (according to the Office for National Statistics), with bunting, toys and gifts, decorations, and even novelty items like cookie cutters and selfie props.

 

Global giants

Those in Europe can take a look at eidmubarak.eu, a Dutch company that sells themed party items for all Islamic occasions, from Ramadan and Eid, to Islamic weddings, and even Hajj and Umrah. Balloons, wall hangings, and greeting cards are all available on the site.

Those living elsewhere can rely on global giants Amazon or AliExpress to have their decorations delivered to them, with hundreds of options showing up from a quick search of just the word “Ramadan.” 

Amazon also has a selection of English-language books to share with kids, or even non-Muslim friends, looking for a simplified way of explaining what exactly Ramadan is.

Those looking for something more handmade or personalized can search “Ramadan” on Etsy. A whiteboard where you can update the daily times of Maghrib and Fajr prayers, a t-shirt that says “Ramadan Kareem: I’m fasting today” and a cheeky button that dryly states “No, not even water” Are just a few options for Ramadan items you can purchase and have personalized.


Bassam Ghulman, deputy minister at the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah

Updated 25 May 2019
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Bassam Ghulman, deputy minister at the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah

Bassam Ghulman has been deputy minister for transportation affairs at the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah since February 2018.

Previously, he was general manager of the Haramain High-Speed Rail Project, which links the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah.

He was also a professor of contracts and construction project management at Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah.

He first joined the university as an assistant lecturer in 1994, and held several positions there, including head of the civil engineering department.

Ghulman serves as vice chairman of the board of the Saudi Council of Engineers. He was an adviser to the secretary of Makkah, having first joined the municipality there as an assistant civil engineer in 1991.

Ghulman holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Umm Al-Qura University. He earned his master’s and Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of Oklahoma in the US.

He has participated in local, regional and international events and conferences, and has published numerous academic papers and books.

Ghulman is a member of several government committees, including the advisory board for development in the Makkah region.

He recently met with members of the transport sector at the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah to discuss early preparations for this year’s season.

Ghulman said the meeting was in line with the ministry’s vision to improve and develop services to transport pilgrims to holy sites.