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City talk: Expats cherish Ramadan traditions

The essence of Ramadan goes beyond the act of fasting. As the month is fast approaching, residents recollect their traditions back home with nostalgia.

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For residents, Ramadan is about praying during the day and catching up with friends and family in the evenings.
Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The essence of Ramadan goes beyond the act of fasting. As the month is fast approaching, residents recollect their traditions back home with nostalgia.

Gulf News took to the streets and asked expatriates about what habits or traditions they practice in the spirit of Ramadan.

Widad Kabir, a 27-year-old executive secretary, from Algeria, said: "Ramadan in Algeria is a beautiful experience. Although we try to keep up our traditions as much as possible, it is not just the same here. It is a must during the month that the whole family eats together at the table. Relatives and friends come to stay over. It gives a great sense of togetherness. The special dishes we cook include shorba, different types of salad, borak which is like samosa and is filled with kofta and vegetables, rice etc. Most of our cooking is done in the oven. Iftar meals are a great time bond with your family."

Nabil Baradey, a 52-year-old translator from Syria, said: "The traditions followed during Ramadan in Arab countries are very similar like more of prayers, going to the mosque together, family gatherings and visiting relatives. We cook many special dishes during the month. The most important probably is Fattah, which is a daily dish. There is also lettuce soup, tabboola and other salads that we make often.

Shamsa Nawaz, a 21-year-old HR officer from Pakistan, said: "We wake up in the morning for sahri [suhour], which is a meal before we begin our fast. By late afternoon, the family begins preparing for iftar. We try to follow tradition as much as possible. It is all about togetherness&the prayers, meals, visiting relatives and so on."

Sumayyah Habeeb, a 34-year-old dentist from India, said: "On routine days, one does not find time to catch up with everyone. Ramadan is a time for that, as much as it is a time for dedicated praying. Back home, there are a variety of deep fried delicacies both vegetarian and non-vegetarian that we cook like samosas and vada. I try to balance these with healthy options. It is also a time when I experiment with salads using recipes from some of my Arab colleagues."

Nazek Al Iftimat, a 22-year-old teacher from Jordan, said: "We follow many traditions during Ramadan like inviting families each day to end their fast along with us at our home. Special sweets like kinaffah and qataif are cooked, which reminds us of home. During Ramadan, we spend a lot of time reading the Quran. After we have the suhour meal, we go to the mosque for the morning prayers."

Mohammad Saleem, an accountant, from India, 39, said: "I miss Ramadan back home. Since I do not have my family here, I end my fast at different restaurants. I miss all the homemade delicacies. However, I carefully pick what I eat."

Reham Mahmoud, a 44-year-old homemaker from Palestine, said: "Your whole routine changes during Ramadan. Days are spent by immersing yourself in prayer and evenings are busy with families coming over to celebrate. So it is an active month and you end up getting less sleep. But it also makes you happy."

Have your say
What Ramadan dishes do you prepare? Are there any special or traditional practices you follow during Ramadan? What do you like most about this month? Tell us at or fill in the comments form below.

Your comments

Holy month of Ramadan kareem brings barakaat
Sohail Gill
Posted: August 16, 2009, 13:25

Although I have never celebrated Ramadan in my home country, Egypt, I believe that every country has a special taste of Ramadan and all are equally delightful!
Ahmad Reda
Posted: August 16, 2009, 11:32

When you say its "Ramadan" time, a picture full with delicious foods, lots of crowd in the market, mosque full with the people of all ages, togetherness of family and friends will appear in your mind. If you ask me, the day in the Ramadan start after Iftar instead of Sahar, specially after 15 ramadan, when the people get busy in invitation and shoping.The evening is very wondeful when evrbody is waiting for the Azan, everyone is trying to reach home before Azan to have Iftar together, people are rushing towards the mosque for Namaz and Traweh. I really really miss India and my home, family and friends and ofcourse all the delicious foods.
Mohammad Faridi
Al Ain,UAE
Posted: August 16, 2009, 08:54

During ramadan, the daily routine changes and we have to concentrate on ibada (prayers) and spend most of our time in the masjid. So it feels great in this holy month.
Mohammad Inayath
Posted: August 16, 2009, 08:20

Ramadan is here, here is Ramadan.Ramadan is coming, the time that is blessed.Ramadan is coming, the time we love best.The month in which the Holy Quran was sent.A time of great blessing, in which to repent.Fasting for God is a great Muslim deed.Controlling desires and suppressing greed.The time has come again to hear such songs.
Posted: August 16, 2009, 08:01

is really difficult to fast during ramadan for the construction worker(crane operator) like me.i will be happy if i get off during this time. its very difficult to fast in sunny days, so i told to my manager , he told he will assign some work in office for 1 month . i think i can fast now , because i need not work in crane .
Mohammad Al Walid
Posted: August 16, 2009, 07:45