The Ramadan dinner

The Ramadan month ended last week. If you don’t know what ramadan is; its the holy ninth month in the Islamic calendar where Muslims fast during the daylight hours from dawn to sunset. It is apparently the month when the holy book of Quran is believed to have been revealed.

I am a non-muslim, thus do not follow the ramadan rules. However as UAE is a muslim country, everyone has to respect and abide to these rules. Thus there is no food displayed in malls, shops etc from about 5am till 7pm. Supermarkets are still open as normal. Restaurants and cafes close up with shutters and/or blinds; some of them still serve food but only for take-away. Bars and clubs are still open, however there is no music and only non-alcoholic drinks are served.


The reason why muslims abstain from any food, drinks and any sexual activities is highly spiritual. Through fasting, they experience hunger and thirst; to sympthathize with the unfortunate, and also to practice self-control. However, OHMYGAWD it was bloody torture for me to go through the month. As my batchmates and i finally ended our training; we could not celebrate as there was no bars/clubs that were open with alcohol. If i happened to be out during lunch time and got hungry, i could not have anything to eat out in the public. One would need to bring it back home before you could eat, or worse case scenario, eat it in the public bathroom. Imagine delicious donuts were screaming out to me as i walked past. The rules are so strict here that if you were actually caught even drinking water inside your car; you’d get thrown into jail.


The good thing however; was the iftar meals at dawn. Iftar is the evening meal when muslims would come together and break their fast together. Alot of restaurants have iftar buffets where you can eat whatever and however much you wanted for a set price. the average was about AED70/USD20 for a lower quality restaurant to about AED500/USD135 for one in a fine dining restaurant.

DSC_0060 if you didn’t know already, i’ve got gorgeous friends. inside and out. don’t be envious now.

I had the privilege to be able to attend 2 iftar buffets. the first was sort of a celebratory dinner at Al Merkaaz in dubai marina. The food was alright; but the hospitality was just amazing as the manager took us through all the different traditional Lebanese dishes and desserts.


The night was still young and would not be complete without a session of seesha, thus we headed to look for a nice chill-out spot. As we walked onto the dubai marina, i was blown away by the sight beyond. Yachts parked in a man-made marina with scores of skyscrapers and blinding lights. Sheikh Zayed Road was alright, but i definitely found the glitzy side of Dubai.


Okay, fast forward a week later, and i found myself and my batchmates being invited for another iftar dinner organized by the cabin crew committee; held in the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding.

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The centre is housed in the historic traditional Emirati neighbourhood of Bastakiya. It is a lovely lovely place and would definitely recommend a walk through the maze of narrow sikkas and tall wind towers. We got lost (obviously) looking for the exact place, but when we were escorted through a series of corridors, an indoor covered courtyard laid with carpets, pillows and lots of food greeted us graciously.

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We began with a little introduction to the month of ramadan, the customs and culture of muslims, what to do and what not to do, and the food of course. They had traditional names for the dishes but being in arabic i obviously do not remember any of it. except just that they were lamb, goat, rice, wheat, and donuts dipped in syrup! Breaking fast always start with a round of plain water, dates and arabic coffee. It is customary to only eat after the evening prayers end; but me being me, i popped a date in as soon as i was handed one; to the dismay of the person serving me.

DSC_0019iveta from lithuania and rene from south africa


No they didnt put me into jail for that but i felt bad for being such a lackwit. Oh well, after the prayers were done and dusted; time for the feast to begin! The food was alright due to the sheer amount of mass producing they needed to do to feed everyone. What made it really special was the ambience and cultural understanding i experienced, and that made the meal so much more than just a meal.



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