By Fanny Ohier
Ramadan is a period of both fasting and festivity. During the day, the cities around Egypt are quieter than normal, but at night people flock to the streets; especially in Cairo, the Ramadan tents, as they are fondly known, take over venues for the month long festivities.
Although bars and clubs are closed, cafes and restaurants are wide open after sunset. After their day of abstinence large crowds assemble to enjoy a shisha, a meal or a mint tea with family and friends. The cities are rejoicing until the early morning, in venues that expand their opening hours and host music concerts until the sun rises again.
Habitually, restaurants, musical venues and cafes are well-prepared Ramadan’s arrival. This year however, on the first day of the holiday, the uncertainty of the political situation has influenced the programmes of the different venues.
El Makan, the Egyptian Centre for Culture and Art, has organised a special Sufi concert during Ramadan but the receptionist advised that they may “cancel the concert on Friday” because of the risk of turmoil in the upcoming days. The centre is located close to Tahrir Square, and is not the only venue in the area or around town that is planning their activities on a day-to-day basis. Many have withdrawn parts, if not all, of their scheduling for the coming days as they wait to see how the situation in the country will develop. The typical cheerful images of Ramadan evenings seem to be fading fast as the feast is about to begin.
Some of the renowned music venues in Cairo have not opened their concert halls since 30 June, and neither have they published the programme of their Ramadan schedule. Meanwhile, those that do organise events in spite of the unstable news decide from day to day if they will open their doors and review their musical program accordingly.
Planning your Ramadan evenings may prove to be a lot harder this year if you are fond of concerts and other kinds of entertainment, if you are in the mood to celebrate, that is. Still, you will have the possibility to enjoy a nice evening if you take it one day at a time, and maybe it is a good idea to visit a nearby cafe or restaurant with a group of friends; they can probably use your patronage. Even if the lavish celebrations are not to be had, Ramadan is here and there will still be many ways to celebrate it.