UAE tent companies keep the faithful covered during holy month
The run-up to Ramadan is a tent company’s busiest time but now the holy month has begun, their employees will finally start to get some rest.
One of the biggest in the business, Arabian Tents, has been gearing up for Ramadan for the past few months. And since the marquees are now all up, the hard work is over, for several weeks, at least.
“It is difficult to take a new order in the days [immediately preceding Ramadan],” said Adeeb Al Ayedi, managing director of Arabian Tents.
“But if it’s a small tent and our crew can finish it in four hours, we can take it.”
The company’s two biggest clients during the period are hotels, who use them to put on huge iftar banquets, and individuals who want to give back to the community.
“Many people want to give a tent to the mosque, to give free meals to poor people,” Mr Al Ayedi said.
Arabian Tents starts taking orders in February, many from hotels who want them kitted out in a specific way.
Orders from charities arrive about a month before Ramadan starts.
“I always talk to my clients two or three months [in advance] to see if they want to book the tent. It is easy to keep it in our schedule, but when Ramadan comes there is no time to build up the tent because we will be busy in more than 50 locations,” Mr Al Ayedi said.
The company starts erecting the tents about a month before the start of Ramadan.
The Sharjah company, which provides everything from the tables and chairs to AC, lights and carpets for the marquees, has been operating in the UAE for 11 years.
In that time it has also provided structures for Hollywood films such as Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
“We provided the tents for the crew and the locations. There were more than 18 locations in the desert for Star Wars,” Mr Al Ayedi said.
“They took a huge tent for the movie.”
The company, which also sells shades for parking and schools, has a year-round order book, and also receives a flurry of bookings around National Day. But Ramadan is its busiest period, by a long way.
The business owns about 100 tents, and is often fully booked during the holy month. It employs about 80 people, but has to bring in up to 50 temporary employees in the months before Ramadan starts, in order to meet demand.
“Sometimes we have some people who can work parttime. It might be a company that supplies the labour. We have a contract with two or three companies that can provide us with some labour. Especially in the days just before it starts, because we are working 24/7,” Mr Al Ayedi said.
He said business was no quieter or busier this year, but it was different in one way. Because the Fifa World Cup starts on June 14 – which is expected to be the final day of Ramadan – many hotels have opted to keep the marquees up for another month.
“There are more enquiries coming because the World Cup is coming after Ramadan. People want to use the tent for two months, for Ramadan and the World Cup,” Mr Al Ayedi said.
“We are not going to charge clients the same price for both months, we will give them some discount for the second month. We will give them some discount.”
Arabian Tents also supplies production companies, such as it did for ‘Star Wars’ in 2014