Doha, Qatar: Ramadan Free Zone

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Ramadan is a very holy month and a time for fasting for Muslim people.In the Gulf and Saudi Arabia the tradition is very strict. No restaurants are open and NO ONE is to eat or drink anything. ( Our office had no Muslims so the head colleague declared our office "Ramadan Free Zone" so she could have an excuse to smoke when we closed the door of the office) It was difficult to maintain my strength at times, ( I have hypoglycemia) and would wear long sleeves to secretly sneak a bite of biscuits, and sweets, etc.) Once during Ramadan, I came out of a supermarket and was nonchalantly opening a Kit Kat bar and started to eat it and forgot it was Ramadan!
 My friends who are Qatari taught me how they survived the tradition. When I opened my door of my flat, they would usually do the traditional greeting "Salaam alaykum wa rahmatallah....) and kiss my cheeks 3 times. But during Ramadan, there was a time when they quickly pushed me aside, no greetings at all and ran up into my flat! I went up to my flat and saw them with chocolate cake, a crazy movie on my TV playing, boxes of chicken, and they even took off their thobes and sat with their underwear on! If I were lounging across my sofa alone, one guy would push me further into the sofa to share it with me affectionately - lounging together next to me. Other times a bunch of guys and I would drive into the desert with food and enjoy eating, driving on the sand dunes which was extremely fun! ( we even had some enjoyment smoking "green" in the sand dunes) and enjoying the comforts of an air-conditioned luxury car and the back seat space of the car (many times ON TOP of me!!- ha ha) until the sun begin to set and one could no longer tell the difference between a strand of a black thread from a white one, and when the cannon sound went off, which meant time to go home to their family's "Iftar"  and break the fast, again. I got to try a lot of different foods, and sweets during Ramadan celebration, and especially during the Eid holiday.

(I especially like QAMAR DEEN -  an apricot fruit roll which is fun to peel off and eat, or make into a drink which is drunk first to start Iftar, the" breaking of the fast" dinner) . Old traditions are difficult to keep at times, for some people, I suppose in ANY religion?


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