Ramadan in Saudi Arabia: The Musaharati tradition

Musaharati’s job is to wake worshippers for their suhoor meal. (SPA)
Updated 24 May 2019
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Ramadan in Saudi Arabia: The Musaharati tradition

  • The Musaharati profession is one of the oldest Ramadan traditions in Al-Ahsa in the Kingdom’s east

Despite the march of modern technology, old Ramadan traditions continue to die hard for Muslims in the Kingdom’s largest province.

The job of Musaharati is the name given to the person who walks and beats a drum in residential areas to wake worshippers for their suhoor meal. In the Eastern Province, where the custom remains a deep-rooted part of the holy month, the drummer is known as Abu Tabila.

The fasting month is not complete in Al-Ahsa governorate without him roaming the streets before dawn prayers. Adults and children often come out of their homes or peer from windows to watch Abu Tabila pass by beating his small drum while reciting prayers.

The Musaharati profession is one of the oldest Ramadan traditions in Al-Ahsa, and every town has its own Abu Tabila. He goes about his business until the end of Ramadan and people offer him money, gifts, sweets, and best wishes for Eid.

Although modern phone apps can alert worshippers, Al-Ahsa communities continue to adhere to time-honored ways.

Omar Al-Faridi, director of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) in Al-Ahsa, said that Abu Tabila was known for his traditional folk clothes and boisterous voice.

Former director of the Al-Ahsa Archaeological and Heritage Museum, Walid Al-Hussein, described the beat of Abu Tabila’s drum as “unique and splendid,” and a sound that evoked the true spirit of Ramadan. 


Saudi sources deny ‘unsubstantiated’ reports of permitting alcohol

Updated 16 June 2019
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Saudi sources deny ‘unsubstantiated’ reports of permitting alcohol

  • “The leadership has made it clear from day one; it is simply not happening,”SCTH source tells Arab News
  • The SCTH is responsible for licensing and rating hotels and restaurants

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has no plans to allow the sale or public consumption of alcohol, a senior government source has told Arab News.

The official with access to relevant decision-makers categorically denied “unsubstantiated” media reports in some international and regional news outlets.

“If you read the fake news, you will notice it is all based on hearsay and tweets by accounts known to have a questionable agenda when talking about the Kingdom,” he said.

“As the country moves forward with its reform plans, we expect much speculation and attempts by critics to hold us back. And while people are allowed to speculate and criticize, their speculation should not be treated as the truth.”

A second source at the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) also denied such reports. “The leadership has made it clear from day one; it is simply not happening,” he told Arab News. “I have not heard of any plans to allow alcohol in major cities, free zones or new projects.”

The SCTH is responsible for licensing and rating hotels and restaurants. Any plans for the sale or consumption of alcohol would have to go through the commission for implementation. 

Saudi Arabia has witnessed substantial social reforms over the past three years, such as the curbing of the previously unchecked power of the religious police, reopening cinemas and allowing women to drive.

There has also been a major shift on previously prohibited public entertainment and gender mixing. International artists including Mariah Carey, Yanni, Andrea Bocelli, Enrique Iglesias and Black Eyed Peas have all performed.

Tourism projects have included pop-up versions of international restaurants such as Signor Sassi, Nusr-Et and Nobu. None has served alcohol.

“Officials have repeatedly said all changes were and will always be in line with Islamic teachings and traditions,” the senior source told Arab News.