Ramadan in UAE: How residents woke up for suhoor before alarm clocks

  • Date: 31-Mar-2023
  • Source: Zawya
  • Sector:Real Estate
  • Country:UAE
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Ramadan in UAE: How residents woke up for suhoor before alarm clocks

In the days before alarm clocks became ubiquitous, Muslims had a unique way of waking up for suhoor, the pre-dawn meal during Ramadan. They relied on human callers, known as mesaharaties or Al Tabbeil (drummer), who would roam residential areas in the dead of night banging a drum and shouting, "Time for suhoor! Wake up!"

Abulla Al Jaffali, a former mesaharaty from the 1960s based in the UAE, recalls his important responsibility with fondness. "We were loud, but not annoying," he says. "People were completely dependent on us. I remember once I overslept and nobody in the neighbourhood could wake up for suhoor."

Although various devices exist today to remind faithfuls of the time for suhoor, the tradition of the mesaharaties remains etched in the memories of many. The Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) in Dubai has taken it upon itself to revive this fading and culturally significant ritual.

Guests signing up for their Ramadan experience can watch a Tbailoh performance featuring none other than the legendary Al Jaffali himself.

The SMCCU has been breaking down cultural barriers from its historic Al Fahidi home since 1998, with the motto "open doors, open minds."

Connecting with Emirati heritage

The beautifully restored