CoffeeCakesAndRunning Ramadan | Ramadan 101

Ramadan | Ramadan 101

UPDATE : Originally posted in 2013 – I’ve updated this post a little to bring it up to date.

2016 is set to be one of the longest period of fasting here in the Middle East with the fast lasting approximately 15 hours in average temperatures of the mid 40’s C.  This year I will be fasting.  It’s my second year and I’m looking forward to challenging myself again and hopefully getting back in sync with eating and drinking etc.  I’ll also be starting an exercise programme again and challenging myself to start getting fitter.  I’m also helping out with FillingTheBlues every night (except Fridays) so no Iftar buffets for me, instead I will be enjoying simple pleasures of home cooking and looking at food in a new light.

Ramadan for 2016 is predicted to start on 6th June and last for 29 or 30 days – but these dates are very much dependant on the moon sighting committee who have to spot the moon in the right position before they can officially confirm Ramadan.

Whatever you do, have a great Ramadan.

Ramadan Kareem x

Can you believe that Ramadan is almost upon us again ? It doesn’t seem so long ago that I was writing last year’s article on Ramadan and in particular my trip to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

Due to start this week on 10th July 2013 and last until 8th August 2013 (source Gulf News) many people are already making their plans for Ramadan.

For my Muslim friends, Ramadan means a month of spiritual cleansing of the soul (During Ramadan, Muslims all over the world restrain themselves from food, drink, intimate relations and smoking) between sunrise and sunset (approx 4 am – 7.15 pm here in Dubai).  During the thirty-day period of fasting there are two significant meals which Muslims partake in,  Suhoor is the light meal eaten before daylight. The fast begins after this meal and resumes until sundown.  Iftar is when the fast ends for the day and a halal meal may be eaten. Any type of food may be eaten, however, the most popular traditional foods are honey, breads, figs, dates, fruits, and olives. It is popular is some cultures for families to host “iftar meals”, in which families and neighbors will come for the evening meal.

If you live or are visiting Dubai during Ramadan then you will notice that the majority of food outlets are closed between sunrise and sunset with the exception of hotels which will often have one restaurant open in a discrete screened off area.  If you are visiting the malls then the food outlets will be closed as will coffee shops.  Eating and drinking water for adults in public during this time is not allowed.  A few cafes and restaurants outside of the hotels will have a special license allowing them to open during Ramadan – you can read details of these places as well as coffee shops which will open by clicking HERE

As a non-Muslim foodie it’s a month where our dining options change dramatically and if you follow me on twitter or instagram you will notice that my postings will become more nocturnal since eating and drinking publicly is done between the hours of sunset and sunrise (7.15 pm – 5.30 am).

Many of the cafe’s and restaurants respond to Ramadan hours by putting on special Ramadan meal options or buffets. For hotels and restaurants Iftar, the meal at which Muslims break their fast, is usually a buffet type meal which opens at sunset and typically lasts for a few hours.   It’s usual to see hotels host large Iftar events either in ballrooms or air-conditioned Iftar tents and majlis and these meals are often a mix of families, work colleagues and friends.  Later in the evening the Suhoor buffet or dinner starts and a similar mix of people spend time together dining, drinking juices, playing board games or just socialising.

Many families celebrate Ramadan by holding Iftar events at home and by sharing meals and there are many traditional dishes which are specially prepared during this period.  One of my favourite dishes which is often served during Ramandan, but is also served throughout the rest of the year too, is Kunafa which is an arabic sweet cheese pastry (also called kunafe, kanefeh, knafeh, kunafeh and kunafah) you can buy this at many supermarkets and sample at many restaurants and hotels.  On a recent visit to Turkish Village I sampled what I and some other foodies categorised as “one of the best Kunefa in Dubai”.  This crisp, rich and indulgent pudding tasted amazing and wasn’t overly sweet or overly sticky but still managed to deliver on taste and texture.

There are many different variations of Kunefa on sale and many different recipes, some include rosewater, others include a variety of nuts, in common to all are the basic ingredients – crisp filo pastry, lots of butter, cheese and a syrup.

So What’s this foodie going to do during Ramadan ??

I’m going to take the opportunity this Ramadan to have a bit of a cleanse for my body and aim to food fast during sunrise and sunset – this means I will refrain from eating food, but will allow myself drinks of tea, coffee and water.  I’m hoping to use Ramadan as an opportunity to get back into a routine of regular exercise (having recently lost my exercise mojo and suffering a few injuries and a minor surgery) and also to experiment with intermittent fasting.  I’m going to do a combination of two things – the Fast Diet 5:2 Intermittent Fasting and also Fat Burning by Intermittent Fasting

UPDATE : In 2015 I undertook my first ever full fast, you can read about it HERE.  This year I will do the same and write about it at some point.

Want to know more about Ramadan ??? Read On ….

All you need to know about Ramadan

Healthy Eating & Fasting During Ramadan

If you are fasting and want to try to benefit from eating healthily during fasting then here are a few articles which might help from  Gulf News here and Imperial College London

Healthy Eating During Ramadan_English Healthy Fasting is Possible_English

Cultural Do’s and Don’ts during Ramadan

Take a look at the TimeOutDubai Guide here

Gulf News has a great article here

Ramadan Etiquette & Dressing Modestly 

Dressing modestly and appropriately applies year round, but is more important during Ramadan, here’s a link to an article in 7 Days about how one of the malls is tackling the issue of appropriate dress code and from Gulf News talks about Ramadan Etiquette here

Paying It Back – Adopt a Camp

If you want to do something charitable during Ramadan then take a look here at how you can get involved with the Adopt-A-Camp project.

Iftar Meals

Just about every hotel and restaurant will be offering an Iftar meal special so I’m not going to list them here.  Take a look at TimeOutDubai for details as well as individual hotel or restaurant pages.  If you are after a deal then take a look at the many voucher sites around such as Groupon, Makhsoom, YallaBanana etc.  For some different Ramadan experiences take a look at Lime & Tonic or to see what’s on you can look at Dubai Calendar

Take a look at the article from IshitaUnblogged who talks about Iftar buffets at various places in Dubai.

Food Delivery

Lots of companies will be open for food delivery throughout the day, either order direct with your favourite supplier or through menu partners such as FoodOnClick, or  A number of fast food restaurants will also be open for food collection, though you will have to make the journey home without eating the food en-route which is usually a challenge.

Not Fasting & Want to Eat ?

If you want to dine out and are not fasting then the article by Foodiva covers independent eateries who are open for discrete dining for the non fasters.

Feeling bored or want to keep active ?

Typically this is a time when people stay indoors more than usual, exercise wise many gyms run reduced or altered exercise timetables. There are plenty of indoor sports activities at Dubai Sports World in the World Trade Centre.  This is a time to get out the box sets of movies or to visit the cinema  (Grand Cinemas have an offer of 1 free ticket if you buy 5 between 8th July and 3rd August).  Mall walking is also popular and there are organised group activities for this at a few of the malls.  For details of other activities check out TimeOutDubai, DubaiNightPlanner or DubaiCalendar.

Ramadan Home Decorations

I love the wall art that you can buy from E-Walls Studio – here’s a link to some of their Arabic and Ramadan inspired wall art

Prayer Times

For a comprehensive list of prayer times then take a look here


Sunrise & Sunset

For a list of times in Dubai – then take a look here :  July and August

Have I missed something?

Please let me know and I will include relevant information on this page.  

In the meantime, whatever you do, Ramadan Mubarak to you all


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