Ramadan 2019 guidelines for construction companies in the UAE
Posted on 30th April 2019
According to *Constructionweekonline news report, the ninth month of the Hijri calendar marks the beginning of the Holy Month of Ramadan around the world: according to the International Astronomical Centre, the first day of Ramadan 2019 is predicted to be 6 May in most Muslim nations; and, as Ramadan rules – from parking and school timings to social conduct related to food and drink – take effect in key construction markets, Construction Week hears from health, legal, and other construction industry experts to prepare your guide to Ramadan 2019.
For instance, with the onset of Ramadan, offices in the UAE will see a reduction of at least two working hours across public and private sectors. Construction Week hears from industry experts on how to prepare your organisation on key business aspects during Ramadan – from labour law and policies to health and nutrition.
IFTAR: HEALTH AND NUTRITION
Ramadan is the month of piety, charity, and blessings, and various construction and real estate companies ensure that their workforce is brought together for daily iftar meals during the Holy Month. Iftar is one of the two main meals of Ramadan, and refers to the breaking of the fast. As the UAE Government's website explains, Muslims traditionally break their fast by eating dates and drinking water.
The second meal is called Suhoor, which is consumed early in the morning before fasting.
As such, companies must bear some key considerations in mind whilst preparing iftar meals for their employees. Director of nutrition and lifestyle management at UAE healthcare giant Zulekha Hospital, Nafeesa Ahmed, tells Construction Week how nutrition should be managed during the Holy Month.
“Prolonged work under the sun eventually results in electrolyte loss due to dehydration, and in order to balance this, it is essential that employers include liquid items such as fresh juice, with no-added sugar and less or no preservatives, as part of the meals,” Ahmed says.
“Work productivity deteriorates in the long run if the labourers are offered food that is high in sugar or has excessive amount of spices.”
Dates, milk, and bread are important parts of a typical iftari, as the meal is sometimes called. Ahmed explains why dates, in particular, are a healthy, nutritious option for construction workers during Ramadan: “Given the fact that the body is deprived of water, salt, and sugar for a long time, dates [support the rapid] assimilation of sugar into the body, which helps boost energy.
“For people within the construction industry – from blue-collar labourers to site supervisors and health and safety officers – high food intake right after breaking fast could result in uneasiness, such as severe gastric and digestion issues,” she continues, adding that iftar meals must comprise measured portions of super-foods.
According to the doctor, iftaris must include minimal portions of Asian and Arabic sweets; deep-fried snacks; and bottled juices with high preservatives and sugar. Instead, she suggested, it is advisable to include puddings or baked food items, as they are high in energy and low in carbohydrates.
During the Holy Month, companies should make necessary arrangements for their non-fasting staff by providing covered make-shift drinking facilities to ensure that they are constantly hydrated, Ahmed adds.
TEMPORARY CONSTRUCTION: RAMADAN TENTS
From royal gatherings to meetings comprising high-net worth individuals (HNWIs), and with companies in the public and private sectors, Ramadan majlis events are frequently held during the Holy Month. As such, these gatherings also drive the semi-permanent structure market in the region.
Senior sales manager at temporary structure specialist Losberger De Boer Middle East, Paul Machin, tells Construction Week that even though demand is high during peak event periods, and the firm receives a high volume of enquiries for its services, hotel owners and operators generally have tight budgets for temporary structures.
Machin notes that Saudi Arabia is a key GCC market where demand for temporary construction has spiked, with demand remaining high during the entire year as the country’s tourism and entertainment sector expands.
“During the Holy Month and Eid, demand for semi-permanent structures in Saudi Arabia rises significantly as hundreds and thousands of Muslims visit the [Makkah Grand Mosque] for their yearly Hajj pilgrimage,” Machin says.
Losberger De Boer, Machin says, implements a thorough project management process to construct the quick-to-build structures, which are easy to assemble and dismantle.
The company uses aluminium integrated wooden floor systems, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) roofs and walls, and glass panels for its buildings. Summer months in the region tend to be quieter periods for the business compared to winter, when the region hosts more outdoor events, Machin says.
“Saudi Arabia is clever when it comes to semi-permanent structures, since it hosts massive one-time events,” he continues.
In December 2019, Losberger De Boer announced that it had built the temporary pit lane structure for electric Grand Prix that took place in the kingdom’s capital city, Riyadh. The German company also completed 15 structures for Saudi Arabia's entertainment mega-city Qiddiya in 60 days last September, and a VIP hub for the King Abdul Aziz Falconry Festival, held earlier in 2019.
RAMADAN HOURS: LABOUR LAW
It is essential that professionals in the UAE are aware of the labour laws surrounding the Holy Month, partner at STA Law Firm, Sunil Thacker, tells Construction Week.
He adds: “Article 65 [states that] maximum working hours for adult workers [should be] eight hours, and [for] employees working in commercial establishments such as hotels, restaurants, security operations, [this] can be increased to nine hours.
“During Ramadan, working hours are reduced by two hours for both Muslims and non-Muslims,” adds Thacker.
“If an employer wants their employees to work more than the designated hours, then the latter can reach out to the labour ministry and register a complaint.”
Non-Muslim professionals working within Dubai International Financial Centre are not entitled to short working hours, and employers can ask employees to work for regular hours even during Ramadan.
“However, the employers have to compensate the extra hours. If anyone contravenes the Article 65, then authorities decide on the quantum of penalty based on the case,” stresses Thacker.
Article 1 of the Ministerial resolution No. 49/1 for the year 1980 states that jobs worked under the sun and outdoors should not exceed five hours. These jobs must also not be carried out beyond 12:30pm or resume before 4:30pm.
"Dubai is far advanced in terms of regulatory measures and construction companies abide by the law to ensure saftey of their employees," Thacker says.
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