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In her debut Ramadan as a Dubai Muslim, a German convert finds solace in her faith.


Martina Oberholzner, a German expatriate now known as Mariam, is savoring her inaugural Ramadan in Dubai following her conversion to Islam earlier this year. At 26 years old, Mariam has found solace in the teachings of her newfound faith, particularly through studying a German translation of the Quran.

Reflecting on her profound spiritual journey, Mariam, a marketing executive, shared, "Even during my teenage years, I felt a deep connection to Islam. Despite being raised in a Christian household, I was inexplicably drawn to its teachings. I embraced modesty in attire and often adorned a headscarf. However, it wasn't until January 2024 that I formally pronounced the Shahada at an Islamic Information Centre in Dubai, solidifying my belief in the oneness of God and the acceptance of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as His messenger."

Mariam's path toward Islam began at the age of 14 when she first visited a mosque in her hometown of Munich, Germany. "Accompanying friends to the mosque, I was enveloped by the warm embrace and hospitality extended to me," she reminisced. "The sense of community and compassion left an indelible mark on my soul."

As time progressed, Mariam found herself increasingly immersed in Muslim circles. "What struck me most about them was their kindness, friendliness, and willingness to help, which significantly influenced my decision to embrace Islam."

Raised among two sisters, Mariam's love affair with Dubai began during a vacation with friends in 2022. "I instantly fell in love with the city and felt a deep desire to make it my home."

Her aspiration came to fruition the following year when she secured a job opportunity in Dubai. However, initial excitement soon gave way to disappointment as her expectations were unmet. "I felt lost and uncertain about my future," Mariam confided. "During those trying times, I resided in Business Bay, where my apartment overlooked a mosque. The melodious call to prayer beckoned me to my balcony each time, offering solace in its serene tones."

It was during this period that Mariam resolved to delve deeper into Islam. "I reached out to a friend and requested a German translation of the Quran."

In mid-2023, Mariam sought solace in Bali, Indonesia, where she unexpectedly found herself immersed in Islamic culture.

Returning to Germany in August to visit her family, Mariam's heart remained firmly set on Dubai. Determined to return, she resumed her job search, eventually securing a promising opportunity.

Finally, in October 2023, Mariam made her triumphant return to Dubai. As she delved into the Quran for the first time, Mariam experienced an inexplicable sensation. "I can't quite articulate the feeling," she mused. "But after just 50 pages, I knew in my heart that I wanted to embrace Islam."

Mariam's journey reached its zenith with the declaration of her Shahadah on a Friday, a moment she described as liberating, bringing tears of joy to those around her.

Now, Mariam is focused on deepening her understanding of Islam and establishing her Ramadan routine. "I wake up for suhoor and break my fast alone at my JVC apartment. My suhoor usually consists of a banana or yogurt; chicken biryani at 4 a.m. is a bit too heavy," she chuckled, noting her preference for lighter iftar meals.

In a heartfelt LinkedIn post, Mariam expressed her gratitude for experiencing her inaugural Ramadan as a Muslim in Dubai, underscoring the transformative power of the holy month.

"Ramadan is not merely about abstaining from food and drink," she wrote. "It teaches us patience, gratitude, and the importance of giving back to our communities. Let us strive together to become the best versions of ourselves, both personally and professionally."

March 19, 2024 3:51 p.m. 9915

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