Emirates employees across operational jobs share insights on Ramadan and how they observe the holy month under such demanding roles. Experience a day in the life of cabin crew Safiah Rahman, and engineering staff – Salman Ahmed and Saad Masood – during Ramadan.
Ramadan in the air with Safiah Rahman, Emirates Cabin Crew
For Emirates Cabin Supervisor – Dayang Ku Safiah Rahman (Safiah) – Ramadan is a time of spirituality, piety, and generosity.
“It is a time to get closer to God and truly value my family and friends, as well as a time to give back to those in need” says the Singaporean national.
Safiah has worked at Emirates for 14 years and is currently a Cabin Supervisor. In her role, she is responsible for on-board safety, security and services – ensuring her team are well versed with the safety regulations and that customers receive world class services on-board.
“Fasting, while offering the best inflight experience for our customers, is a very rewarding feeling” she explains. “It tests your patience and strengthens your will power. It also makes you feel with those less fortunate and how they cope without any food or water.”
“One challenge I struggle with is thirst, especially since the air can get very dry in the cabin. I try to hydrate as much as I can by drinking water and I make sure to avoid coffee and tea.”
The get-togethers during the holy month are a favorite for Safiah. “When I’m in my own home, I love to cook and host large gatherings with all my family and friends. It’s one of the very few times during the year we all make sure to meet and celebrate together.”
Her favorite Ramadan meal is the national dish of lontong – a dish made of compressed rice cake in coconut base gravy with turnip, wrapped inside a banana leaf. Her favorite drink is rose syrup and basil seed.
In preparation for scheduled flights, she wakes up for Suhoor and eats bread, eggs, oats and dried fruits to give her the energy needed.
“At times when I to break my fast during a flight” she explains, “I prefer to have a glass of water, followed by milk, and nuts and dates. Once on the ground, I’ll have a full meal.”
Safiah points out the appealing Ramadan services offered on-board she finds quite special. For the holy month, Emirates launched specially crafted Iftar meals on board with bespoke boxes designed by local homeware specialist, Silsal Design House. The designs are inspired by the Middle East, its people, places and culture.
Looking ahead to Eid – Safiah loves to celebrate in her home country, wearing her traditional Malay clothing, visiting her elders, donating to foundations and roaming around her city to experience the many food bazaars available.
Emirates engineering staff share how they observe Ramadan
Emirates engineer, Saad Masood and Manager Line Maintenance Shift, Salman Ahmed share what a typical work day is like in Ramadan.
At 3:15 am, Saad Masood wakes up to prepare a small meal for suhoor. As the dawn approaches, he hears the call to prayer and gets ready for salaat il fajr. Saad uses the quiet and serene morning time to reflect on his blessings and gratitude to God.
At 4:30 am, Saad starts to get ready for his 12 hour work shift at Emirates Engineering. At 6:00 am, he clocks into work and his day begins.
Salman follows the same early morning routine. He has suhoor with his family and ensures he prays in a nearby mosque before heading to work at 5:00 am.
“Ramadan is the most spiritual month of the year. It is my favourite time of the year where I can self-reflect, better myself and truly feel closer to God” Saad explains.
Saad is a Pakistani national and has worked with Emirates for almost three years. He is part of the Quarantine Action Desk (QAD) team, within the Component Management Division. In his critical role, he is responsible for the quality evaluation of every installable component of an aircraft – be it the A380 superjumbo or the Boeing 777.
The QAD team is accountable for evaluating and quarantining any aircraft components that do not qualify and pertain to the Emirates standards. This can include a component as small as a sensor, to one as large as an entire aircraft. If the rotable units are successfully evaluated, the components are accepted as part of Emirates inventory and eventually installed onto the aircraft.
For Salman, fasting is about tranquillity, achievement and discipline. It is a time to renew and better oneself. “I like to think of it as a 30 day makeover opportunity, every year, to morally better oneself” he explains. “I love the increased sense of spirituality during this holy month.”
Salman is also a Pakistani national and has worked with Emirates for over 23 years. He is a Manager Line Maintenance Shift and the front face of Engineering Operation Control. He ensures all Emirates and third party customer aircrafts are serviced and maintained to the highest standards and all technical defects on the aircraft are cleared prior to departure to ensure on time performance.
The Line Maintenance team at Emirates provides a 24-hour service of technical support to Emirates’ fleet of over 265 aircraft. The team liaise with flight operations and network control to provide the highest level of service and efficiency within a demanding commercial schedule.
To start the day, Saad and Salman huddle with their teams and takeover any relevant tasks and important information from the previous shift. They then prioritise their responsibilities for the day.
Their line of work demands significant attention to detail, consistent analysis and a comprehensive understanding of the processes. Remaining focused during work hours is essential and Saad explains how he does so while fasting.
“To stay focused in Ramadan, I find it very important to stay active, especially during work. Every few hours, I take short breaks and walk around the office to freshen up” he says. “It helps me stay focused. I also drink a litre of water the night before, try to maintain a balanced diet, exercise and ensure I sleep eight hours every evening.”
“Prayer times are very refreshing,” he continues. “It’s a chance for me to relax and be peaceful.”
“Personally, the most challenging part of observing Ramadan is self-control. I try to remain calm, and avoid any rude or negative thoughts. Such positive thinking becomes a truly rewarding experience” he says.
For Salman, remaining patient and focused are his main challenges. Like Saad, prayer times help refresh and maintain self-control. Charity work during this month is imperative for Salman. “It’s a time to remember and sympathize with those less fortunate. It’s important for me to teach my kids the need to carry out charity work” he says.
At 6:00 pm, Saad finishes his shift and heads home for iftar. He prefers to break his fast initially with fruits, dates, juices and fried delicacies such as samosas. At least once every Ramadan, he ensures his friends and family gather around for a traditional, hot meal. His favourite Ramadan drink is a beverage called lassi – a sweet version of laban.
If working a nightshift, Salman enjoys breaking his fast with the entire team. “It’s refreshing and humbling to see fasting and non-fasting colleagues come together on one table to celebrate the small victory of the day” he says.
“Post iftar, my family and I relax for an hour and then head to the mosque for the night prayers, Taraweeh. I use this time with my children to read the Quran and share Islamic teachings.”
As Eid approaches, both Saad and Salman look forward to celebrating with their families over a delicious homemade Eid feast.
“The best part about Eid,” Saad says, “is that it’s a time of generosity.” “We spread joy and happiness as we exchange gifts or money amongst our cousins and siblings. It’s a wonderful feeling.”
Salman prefers to gather with his friends and family for Eid prayers at a local park. Organised by an Islamic centre, they pray together at the park and meet Muslims from different ethnicities and nationalities within his community.
The month concludes in a joyous occasion with rewarding achievements for both Engineering colleagues.