21 September 2008
DUBAI— Ramadan has become highly commercialised in the region, feel 67 per cent of Muslim respondents in an extensive survey on Ramadan trends.
The survey by Maktoob Research revealed that many people think that Ramadan is like a party season for many marketeers.
“The marketing people work endlessly to grab their target market during Ramadan. Just last week I was handed about 15-20 brochures for various products,” said Hasher Ummar, who lives in Dubai and works for a marketing firm.
“We did almost 48 brochures in the first week of Ramadan. Sales and marketing goes up by 25-37 per cent in this season,” he added.
With the reduced office timings and relaxed atmosphere, special programming is created for this month for Muslims to feel at ease during the fasting period. “This month sees a noticeable increase in TV viewers,” pointed out George Habib, Brand Manager for Showtime Arabia.
Along with programmes that educate on the holy month, many channels have introduced soap-operas and game shows as well. “This enables marketers to reach their target audiences conveniently,” he added. Rabab, a Lebanese, said that Ramadan has seen a shift from its spiritual virtue. “There are a lot of promotions going on right now. There are a number of programmes on the TV and radio that are created especially for this month. They are game shows where you can win a lot of money. People indulge in those things nowadays instead of praying. A bit of it should be reduced to attain the peace the month seeks to achieve.” Umme Kulsoom from Sharjah says that the true meaning of Ramadan is slowly being lost. “If you ask children what Ramadan is, they’ll tell you going for festivals, eating and fun. After Iftar people head out with their family for these festivals rather than trying to understand the essence of fasting. This month is seen as a time to enjoy with the family.”
However, Muslims still believe that all is not lost and that many still devote themselves to religion.
The survey also stated that 74 per cent of Muslims affirmed to reading the entire Holy Quran during the holy month. “Ramadan can also be a time to enhance your understanding of Islam through various exhibits in the country. Hence despite all the increased outdoor advertising marketing gimmicks, there are a lot of religious lectures, which one can attend instead,” added Kulsoom.