This year Stu and I decided, well actually to be fair it was Stu who suggested, that we should try a proper traditional Iftar. We had been to Iftar last year at the end of our Fundamentals of Arabic course, but we wanted to do something a bit more interesting than the normal buffet-style meal that is on offer at most of the hotels during the holy month. Coincidentally Stu then read, and I also heard on the radio, about an Iftar meal being hosted at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) in the Bastakiya section of Dubai. This is the area in Dubai that has retained some traditional-style homes (complete with wind-towers) and is wonderful for walking tours. Iftar is the meal taken on breaking of the fast, just after sunset (Maghrib), during Ramadan. The timing of the prayer depends on the setting of the sun and is published in the newspaper each day. So we were required to be at the centre for 6.30pm, as Iftar was scheduled for 6.59pm that evening.
The holy month of Ramadan begins tomorrow, the 1st of August. I wish you all a happy and blessed month.
In all likelihood Ramadan will start tomorrow, that is depending on the sighting of the new moon, which will probably happen tonight.
Ramadan follows the moon cycle with lasts 29 or 30 days. It is seen as an opportunity for families to renew their connections, it’s also a month of forgiveness and mercy. According to a quote in the Xpress today Ramadan is “when you hit the reset button on your relationships – with God, with yourself, family and even neighbours”.
For the non-Muslims living in the region, and for tourists too, it is important to have consideration for those fasting and remember that all eating, drinking and even smoking in public is frowned upon between dawn and dusk.
As September is 9 months after New Year you would expect to run into a few birthdays here and there this month, and even in our case, with our severely depleted social circle, you would be right! In fact we have 2 birthday celebrations this month, one this last week for Eunice, and one this coming week for my dear husband Stuart. We joined Eunice in celebrating her 26th birthday (man don’t I feel old) on Thursday evening at the Grand Grill in the Grand Habtoor Hotel and Resort, Jumeirah Beach. We decided to take a cab so that we could both have a celebratory drink, but man oh man was the journey hair raising; the cabbie seemed determined to hit 120km/h between speed bumps on the way there, and this, combined with the squeakiest brakes this side of the equator, left me feeling rather seasick. However we arrived in one shaken-but-not-stirred piece, in fact we beat the birthday girl who was fashionably late, and had to settle for water for a pre-dinner drink as no alcohol is served until 19h30 due to Ramadan. The advertised cuisine of the restaurant is South African and the menu included a boerewors starter with pap and even a taste of bobotie served with banana ice-cream. Most of the guys and gals went for home-reared slabs of beef, whilst Stu had a burger and I did the sacrilegious ordering fish at a steak house. Happily it was delicious. We also made up for the slow start on the drinks side eventually flattening about 6 bottles of some lovely Porcupine Ridge Merlot and Fairview Pinotage. After that we headed up to Bar 44 for a nightcap, this is a watering hole (frighteningly expensive) on the 44th floor of the Grosvenor House hotel which is just opposite the Grand Habtoor, and reached by a rather frightening dash through sand and over a busy road, not recommended in heels. This is one place you notice the lack of no non-smoking laws here (well this could change any day as the Sheikh is planning to ban all smoking in public places). It reminded me a little of Spats back in Sandton in the old days (well the 90s anyway), minus the live music and with the addition of the most amazing view of the Jumeirah Beach area (ok maybe not much like Spats after all). The view does make it worth visiting at least once, but save up first! Incidentally Grosvenor House is also home to Dubai’s own version of the Buddha Bar, which we plan to visit another night.