Posted by Kanga.
Last week we revisited the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding for the iftar meal. This is an excellent program introducing tourists and ex-pats to Emirati food and traditions. The volunteers do a very good job of explaining traditions and are open to any questions.
We opted for “Eastern wear.”
We attended the event with some of our friends.
Arabic coffee served by a bedouin.
Several young Emiratis volunteer at the center. During the dinner they mingle with the attendees to converse and answer any questions. Mohammed, from Sharjah, had his hands full in conversing with us. Our friends are all “old timers” in the UAE. DaddyBird and I, with our four years of residency, are the new comers. Mita came to Dubai about the time that young Mohammed was born.
After the meal, the group walked to the nearby mosque for a basic introduction to Islamic concepts and rituals.
After a walk back to the cultural center, it was time for dessert and a question/answer session.
Just in case you came to this blog for information on Ramadan, here are the basics: Ramadan is a month in the Arabic (lunar) calendar. During this month, muslims fast during the day (sunrise to sunset). This means no food or liquids. They also exercise discipline by refraining from things like sex or smoking. The goal is to focus on being a better person. Once the sun sets, the fast is broken with an iftar meal. This meal may be done in the home, at the mosque, or at a restaurant. Another meal, suhoor, is eaten in the early morning hours before sunrise and the beginning of the next fast. It is not uncommon to stay awake most or all of the night and sleep during the day. Work hours are usually reduced to 6 hours (8 am to 1 pm, or 9 am to 2 pm). Some businesses close during the day and open after sunset.
For those in Dubai, we recommend the meal related events at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding. During the other months (non-Ramadan) they serve both breakfasts and lunches. It is well worth the time and money.