Saudi Red Crescent records spike in ‘physical confrontations’ during Ramadan

While Ramadan is supposed to be a time of spiritual renewal and contemplation, the authorities have noted a dramatic spike in the number of fights, traffic accidents and road-rage incidents in Jeddah alone. (AN file photo)
Updated 03 June 2018

Saudi Red Crescent records spike in ‘physical confrontations’ during Ramadan

  • In the first two weeks of the holy month alone, there had been 282 collisions on the city’s roads and at least 70 people had needed emergency treatment after being run over by motorists.
  • All these accidents took place an hour or two before iftar, or the breaking of the fast, says the Saudi Red Crescent Authority.

JEDDAH: Ramadan is supposed to be a time of spiritual renewal and contemplation — but in Jeddah, at least, it’s a different story as authorities struggle to deal with a dramatic spike in the number of fights, traffic accidents and road-rage incidents. 

According to the Saudi Red Crescent Authority (SRCA), the city has witnessed 178 “physical confrontations” since the beginning of Ramadan.

An SRCA spokesman, Abdullah Abu Zaid, told Arab News that in the first two weeks of the holy month alone, there had been 282 collisions on the city’s roads and at least 70 people had needed emergency treatment after being run over by motorists.

Meanwhile, emergency departments at 13 hospitals in Jeddah have handled more 16,650 different cases, according to the Health Ministry.

What do many of these incidents have in common? They all took place an hour or two before iftar.

Now experts are blaming the aggressive, pre-iftar behavior on the Ramadan fast and its effects on the human body. 

“All shoppers are in a hurry to get back to their homes before the call for the maghrib prayer so that they are not late to break their fast,” Khalid Al-Salem, a psychologist, told Arab News.

Studies have shown that the lack of water in the body “disturbs the cells of the brain, leading to stress and edgy behavior before iftar,” he said.

“The human brain depends mainly on glucose in its energy. When the quantity of that component decreases in the blood, due to abstaining from liquids during daytime, this can affect the brain and lead to the feeling of unease,” he said.

Bad habits, such as smoking, can also cause nervous tension during the fasting period. “Aggressive behaviors can occur with people who have recently quit a bad habit like smoking,” Al-Salem said.

He advised following fasting instructions recommended by physicians to avoid “unwanted consequences.”

Buthainah Ba-Abbad, a consultant to the King Abdul Aziz Center for National Dialogue, had another explanation for the tense behavior that many people display when fasting, especially before nightfall when Muslims break their fast.

“In their lives, people always adapt themselves to either positive or negative attitudes. It is a belief in our culture that Ramadan is a month of tough times that we experience every year,” she said. Based on this outlook, our bodies respond accordingly.

Muslims’ work productivity is low during Ramadan because of “negative feelings” concerning the month.

Ba-Abbad recommends familiarizing our bodies with fasting several days before Ramadan to lower the effects. 

The consultant agreed that low glucose levels and dehydration could have dramatic effects on behavior.

“With low glucose, the human brain will not be as efficient sending its neural signals to different body parts. In this case, people feel nervous, worried and experience rapid heart rate,” Ba-Abbad said.

Ramadan is supposed to be a time of spiritual renewal and contemplation — but in Jeddah, at least, it’s a different story as authorities struggle to deal with a dramatic spike in the number of fights, traffic accidents and road-rage incidents. 

According to the Saudi Red Crescent Authority (SRCA), the city has witnessed 178 “physical confrontations” since the beginning of Ramadan.

An SRCA spokesman, Abdullah Abu Zaid, told Arab News that in the first two weeks of the holy month alone, there had been 282 collisions on the city’s roads and at least 70 people had needed emergency treatment after being run over by motorists.

Meanwhile, emergency departments at 13 hospitals in Jeddah have handled more 16,650 different cases, according to the Health Ministry.

What do many of these incidents have in common? They all took place an hour or two before iftar.

Now experts are blaming the aggressive, pre-iftar behavior on the Ramadan fast and its effects on the human body. 

“All shoppers are in a hurry to get back to their homes before the call for the maghrib prayer so that they are not late to break their fast,” Khalid Al-Salem, a psychologist, told Arab News.

Studies have shown that the lack of water in the body “disturbs the cells of the brain, leading to stress and edgy behavior before iftar,” he said.

“The human brain depends mainly on glucose in its energy. When the quantity of that component decreases in the blood, due to abstaining from liquids during daytime, this can affect the brain and lead to the feeling of unease,” he said.

Bad habits, such as smoking, can also cause nervous tension during the fasting period. “Aggressive behaviors can occur with people who have recently quit a bad habit like smoking,” Al-Salem said.

He advised following fasting instructions recommended by physicians to avoid “unwanted consequences.”

Buthainah Ba-Abbad, a consultant to the King Abdul Aziz Center for National Dialogue, had another explanation for the tense behavior that many people display when fasting, especially before nightfall when Muslims break their fast.

“In their lives, people always adapt themselves to either positive or negative attitudes. It is a belief in our culture that Ramadan is a month of tough times that we experience every year,” she said. Based on this outlook, our bodies respond accordingly.

Muslims’ work productivity is low during Ramadan because of “negative feelings” concerning the month.

Ba-Abbad recommends familiarizing our bodies with fasting several days before Ramadan to lower the effects. 

The consultant agreed that low glucose levels and dehydration could have dramatic effects on behavior.

“With low glucose, the human brain will not be as efficient sending its neural signals to different body parts. In this case, people feel nervous, worried and experience rapid heart rate,” Ba-Abbad said.


King Salman urges Iran to junk its expansionist ideology

Updated 21 November 2019

King Salman urges Iran to junk its expansionist ideology

  • Saudi Arabia has suffered from the policies and practices of the Iranian regime and its proxies, king says
  • Kingdom also welcomed US decision to return Iran's Fordow nuclear facility to its sanctions list

RIYADH: Iran should abandon its expansionist ideology that has only “harmed” its own people, Saudi Arabia's King Salman said on Wednesday, following violent street protests in the Islamic republic.

A wave of demonstrations erupted in the sanctions-hit country on Friday after an announcement that petrol prices would be raised by as much as 200 percent with immediate effect.

“We hope the Iranian regime chooses the side of wisdom and realizes there is no way to overcome the international position that rejects its practices, without abandoning its expansionist and destructive thinking that has harmed its own people,” the king told the consultative Shoura Council.

“The kingdom has suffered from the policies and practices of the Iranian regime and its proxies,” King Salman said, quoted by the foreign ministry, reiterating that Riyadh does not seek war but is “ready to defend its people.”

A satellite image from Sept. 15, 2017, of the Fordow nuclear facility in Iran. (Google Earth)

Saudi Arabia has welcomed Washington's decision to return the Fordow nuclear facility in Iran to the sanctions list. 

Washington said on Monday that it will no longer waive sanctions related to Iran’s Fordow nuclear plant after Tehran resumed uranium enrichment at the underground site. 

“The right amount of uranium enrichment for the world’s largest state sponsor of terror is zero ... There is no legitimate reason for Iran to resume enrichment at this previously clandestine site,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters earlier this week.