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BrKhalid
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« on: Aug 12, 2009 10:32 AM »

Asalaamu Alaikum  bro

A strange thing to say but are we starting to lose the true meaning of Ramadhan?




Don’t let Ramadan drown in a sea of commercialism


As Ramadan 2009 draws closer, Muslim communities around the world are preparing for a holy month of spiritual reflection and devoutness. But will it be overwhelmed by a wave of commercialism? If you are old enough to remember the 1950s and 1960s, you will certainly know that the Ramadan experience nowadays is vastly different from what it was then.


On a family outing to an outdoor coffee shop in Dubai one evening during Ramadan last year, I was surprised by the huge number of customers and the bustling streets. There was a giant television screen showing one of the soap operas that are so popular at this time of the year, and colourful fireworks flashed and cracked over the Creek, creating a mood of festivity.

I took a closer look at the Ramadan lanterns on the table, intrigued not only by their neat and colourful looks, but also by their place of manufacture: China. The whole scene was a classic illustration of a festive Ramadan celebration in which the spiritual and the material merge.

Of course, I am never annoyed by this confluence of the sacred and the profane in Ramadan rituals, since material expressions of the fasting month are central for asserting our cultural identity in the age of globalisation. My concern, however, is our apparent failure to reconcile the spiritual and the material in the Ramadan experience: commercialism is dominant. From Cairo to Dubai and from Istanbul to Jeddah, the dynamics of consumer culture and globalisation are submerging Ramadan with the promotion of modern, consumption-driven lifestyles.

Like Christmas and Hanukah, Ramadan should be a time for spiritual reflection, an opportunity to rethink our material life experience and bring it into closer alignment with the values of perseverance, self-denial and community cohesion, the very values on which the practice of fasting draws. That’s why across the Muslim world the question of Ramadan commercialisation has always generated debate, with many fingers pointed at a new globally-inspired Ramadan “industry” that sees the fasting month as no more than a business opportunity.

There are fasting calendars, lanterns, alarm clocks and rosaries; Ramadan greeting cards, Ramadan sweepstakes, Ramadan-themed shopping malls and supermarkets, and Ramadan festivals. This industry, promoted through massive advertising campaigns on television and other media, is transforming the face of Ramadan: what should be a month of reflection, worship and sympathy is being dominated, in public at least, by consumerist values and behaviour.

Television is one of the most prominent forces in the commercial orientation of Ramadan. Many channels save the best of their talk shows, soap operas, reality programmes and documentaries for the holy month, in tandem with efforts by advertisers to win the hearts and minds of consumers. For advertisers, Ramadan is like a 30-day Super Bowl weekend in which competitors jostle for market share.

I believe that Muslim communities have a responsibility to try to ensure that the holy month is reflected in their television content; indeed, this year the satellite channels have revealed an exciting range of programmes that promote family values and religious ethics in quite compelling formats. On the other hand, there are also many Ramadan-scheduled programmes that are no more than cheap entertainment to attract viewers after a day-long fast.

Marketers and businesses are tapping the potential of 1.3 billion Muslim people all at home at the same time, fasting or breaking their daily fasts and getting back to normal life – a captive audience eager for entertainment and celebration, and more than willing to feast when the sun goes down.

Ramadan epitomises the very spiritual and moral values of Islam, and how we celebrate it helps to define our culture and heritage in the age of globalisation. Clearly there is a place for Ramadan-centred TV advertising and programming that promote spiritual reflection, self-denial and community cohesion. But when the Ramadan experience turns into a commercial opportunity to maximise profit, then we have a good reason to be alarmed.

All stakeholders, including market players, government policy makers, media institutions and civil society groups bear equal responsibility to ensure that excessive commercialism never overwhelms the cherished values of this holy month.

Muhammad Ayish is professor of communications at the University of Sharjah
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BrKhalid
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« Reply #1 on: Aug 13, 2009 07:05 AM »

Asalaamu Alaikum  bro

An article on a similar theme….

Surely we should be watching less and not more television during Ramadhan Huh?



TV channels splash the cash ahead of peak Ramadan viewing

As Ramadan approaches and business in the UAE winds down, one sector is gearing up for the busy season - TV.

Across the Arab world, eyes turn to the picture box for special drama, comedies and game shows tailored to the Holy month and those who provide the entertainment hold their breath as significant investments come to realisation.

"In-home viewing goes up from an average yield of four and half hours a day of TV viewing to six to seven hours a day TV viewing," said Mazen Hayek, MBC's group director of marketing, PR and commercial.

"So it's true that all year long TV is the favourite national sport of the Arab family - the virtual family member of the Arab family - but in Ramadan it becomes more so."

Investment poured into Ramadan productions mirrors this.

"Ramadan for us is the peak [not just] in terms of rating but in terms of commercial revenues and in terms of investments," said Hayek.

"I would give a percentage of 25 to 30 per cent of the total production investment and of advertising revenues to that month. So you take 75 per cent of your investments in programming and of your income from advertising and divide them over 11 months."

Of course, Arab family lifestyle changes dramatically during Ramadan beyond watching more TV. Unlike Christmas in the West, entertainment interests swing away from Hollywood blockbuster movies towards cultural interest, locally inspired comedy and drama and religious shows.

"That change in media consumption habits and patterns and duration affects the way people consume other channels," said Hayek, referring to Western-dominated content.

Many of these are series which play out over the month, particularly the drama, as they are synonymous with family and societal values. MBC broadcasts to more than 300 million viewers, across North Africa and the Middle East, says Hayek, and each evening's order of play is carefully thought out, around "subjects that fall under the mood of Ramadan".

"A typical night would start with comedy while people are having Iftar, then another comedy, then you move to a huge line-up of top-rated dramas. Then typically a game show."


Key to capturing and keeping viewers' loyalty during the month is making sure the dramas are gripping from the start. Then hopefully the routine nature of Ramadan will do the rest.

"We know people will tune in from Iftar time. Ramadan is synonymous to pattern. Once you establish the first week of viewing, that's the month. If you get hooked onto a series or into a programme during the first three days of Ramadan, you're on with it until the end of the month."

Established in 1991 in London, MBC Group that currently broadcasts on eight channels were the first pan-Arab free-to-air channel. Hayek says MBC are market leaders in the Arab world, and competitors will try to fit their schedules around the Group's programming.

"The whole industry waits for MBC to announce its Ramadan grid and its timing to schedule accordingly," he said. "We rarely announce the timings of our programmes during Ramadan because we know people will tune in from Iftar time."

Despite Ramadan falling in the summer this year, with longer daylight hours pushing Iftar back, Hayek is adamant that this will not affect viewer numbers.

"Ramadan by itself is a season. So it won't be affected when it falls in the year. If it falls in August or if it falls in December or if it falls in January - it's a tiny little detail.

"Viewing will be the same, ratings will be the same, people's lifestyles will be practically the same and advertisers' endorsements and the connections between brands and consumers via TV will also be the same."

http://archive.gulfnews.com/articles/09/08/13/10339783.html
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Say: "O ye my servants who believe! Fear your Lord, good is (the reward) for those who do good in this world. Spacious is God's earth! those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward without measure!" [39:10]

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