Posted on July 5, 2016
Today is the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan and the beginning of the Eid Al-Fitr (the festival of the breaking of the fast) three-day holiday. The new lunar month of ‘Shawwal’ starts with the new crescent moon tonight, which is the 1oth month of the Islamic calendar.
The new lunar month of ‘Shawwal’ starts with the new crescent moon tonight, which is the 10th month of the Islamic calendar. Shawwal means to ‘lift’ or ‘carry’, as MB has just discovered on researching it, so named because a female camel would normally be carrying a fetus at this time of year.
‘Eid Mubarak’ is the common greeting to colleagues and friends out these parts leading up to and during the festival, meaning ‘Blessed’ or ‘Holy’ Eid.
So to any and all concerned, especially to friends & colleagues of MB out these parts – Eid Mubarak to all.
Posted on August 26, 2015
Middle East Living
The modern lifestyle of many Middle East Arabs is far from healthy. Night time can often involve hanging out in cafes or restaurants to watch a televised football match while smoking flavoured shisha. There is a misconception among many that because the smoke is forced through the water pipe that it is somehow less toxic. But research shows that the sweet smelling smoke is even more harmful that normal cigarette smoke. Cigarette smoking itself is also far more extensive than back in MB’s homeland.
The historic activity of nomadic desert migration is long since replaced by the wandering from the Baskin & Robbins oasis to McDonald’s to Dunkin Donut and others in search of the nightly fix. Very often the Arab driver will honk the car horn outside the restaurant of choice and the restaurant workers will rush out to take the order. They will return again minutes later with the high carb food, ensuring that Mohammad didn’t even have to take the short walk from car to counter before he wolfed it down.
The climate of course isn’t conducive to physical activity for much of the year. But there are at least 5 to 6 months when the weather is excellent for an evening stroll or jog, or any other kind of sporting activity you care to mention. There is no historical culture of sport however, so participation levels by locals are very low, as much as MB has observed. The Dubai marathon each year for example, has thousands of participants, but native numbers are lamentably poor, despite the best efforts of the Government to encourage local participation. The present nightly summer temps are in the mid thirties but the only joggers that MB sees on his nightly outings are fellow Westies.
Eating habits are also a cause of concern. The month of fasting from sunrise to sunset that is called Ramadan actually witnesses many Arabs gaining weight, as they gorge themselves at the evening ‘Iftar’ meal and the body is just unable to burn off the calories consumed during the following very shortened working day of that month. Eating to excess is commonplace even throughout the remainder of the year, as the traditional evening meal involves many and varied starters which must each be sampled, followed by large plates of meat and rice with various yoghurts, and a desert course. Then a creamy mocha or cappuccino to wash it all down following by the obligatory puffing of the hooka pipe. The incidence of diabetes, for all the above reasons, has risen dramatically in recent years and regional health authorities speak of a diabetes epidemic in the coming years.
All in all, many similarities with many western countries as you can see!
Posted on July 27, 2014
Posted on July 18, 2013
Greetings to you all lads and the blessings of Ramadan be upon all your heads
We are at end Week 1 of the holy month, and the entire Middle East is full of hungry thirsty Muslims trying to get through each 45C day without food or water between sunrise & sunset. That’s approx 4.00am to 6.30pm out these parts. Sex and smoking are also forbidden during those hours but it’s far too hot for it anyway. The smoking I mean!
MB fasted for the first two days for the crack, just to see what it was like. You really don’t want to be talking a lot as your throat gets dry and there isn’t a drop of moy-ya (arabic for ‘water‘) to be got anywhere. MB did cheat a few hours in the morning by taking the porridge & honey breakfast at 7.00am, but apart from that he stuck with it. But after day 2 the novelty wore off and he decided to revert to the ways of the infidel, even though MB, like most non-Muslims, does not eat or drink in their presence during the day, just to show a little respect and not to be torturing them.
Traffic accidents increase a lot during the month, in particular in the evenings, as many people are driving home too quickly to get to the food after long hot hungry day, and/or they are tired from no food & drink since sunrise and they are falling asleep at the wheel. There are many warnings from the police each year in all the media to drivers, but human nature takes over and the hunter gatherer has to get some food in his body asap when he has gone long period without. Hence the accident rate goes up.
It’s also a time when all Muslims should think of those less fortunate than themselves and they are expected to give generously to various charities. The police warn the public about not giving any money to street beggars who miraculously appear during the holy month and disappear when it’s over. The authorities are constantly saying that the dastardly beggars should not take advantage of the generosity & good nature of the average Muslim and prey on his generous nature during this time of the year. But on balance its a good time to be a street beggar, if you have to be a street beggar, as generally the religious duty to be kind & generous wins out.
Just like the custom back home at Christmas, it’s also the time of year when companies throw their annual party, which is always held, obviously, at the time of the breaking of the fast in the evenings. The evening meal which breaks the fast is called ‘Iftar’ – which translates, strangely enough, as ‘breakfast’. Approx 6.30pm ish is generally the Iftar time, when the mosques give the call to prayer, and then you are free to get stuck into as much food as you can consume with relish. No pork of course lads (God help them) but everything else imaginable. They love their salads out here and the food tends to be mixture of meats (often mutton), rices of various varieties, fresh juices (no wine or beer, as alcohol is forbidden) and numerous types of salads. The first course is usually dates, very often three dates as this is how the Prophet (PBUH) allegedly started his meals after fasting. All finger lickin’ good, as the Colonel might say.
Iftar is also very much a social meal/occasion and often involves extended family, friends, or maybe the whole village in certain places. So invites to Iftar parties are commonplace. MB received one such invitation this morning and dined this evening in the presence of two Muslims from Tamal Nadu in India. Great food and MB enjoyed it no end.
Attended company Iftar party earlier this week, which was held in the courtyard of a hotel. Was pleasant evening, and of course took a few shots with the camera to give all you kafeers back home a chance to see what the Iftar is all about.
As MB is presently working in Saudi Arabia, you will not see any females in the photos. As mixing of the sexes is not permitted, there are no females working for the company on a project that employs some 5,000 workers. All admin roles and every other function is carried out by men. Strange lads but that’s the way of things in Saudi. I mean, if the women are not allowed drive cars out here, they can hardly expect to be coming to the Iftar parties. But seriously lads, MB did attend a number of big company parties last year which were open to family members, male & female, and hotels always cordon off a ‘family section‘ for those who want to bring the missus or the daughters along. Outside of Saudi Arabia it would be unusual not to see females at an Iftar party, and there would not be any separate ‘family sections’. The Saudis have the separate sections on account of the much stricter version of the religion that they practice.
And that concludes the Iftar blog lads. All pics this week relate.
Ramadam kareem to all.
Food prepared by the Tamal Nadu boys for MB
Potato, chopped chicken & onion cakes in a crust of whipped egg and crushed rice from the Tamal lands. Deliciously awesome!
The Iftar starter
The company do: