Eid-alFitr to my Muslim friends!

Eid-alFitr, The feast after end of Ramadan is one of the most-awaited & celebrated Feast in Muslim countries, and Kuwait is far by no exception.

I have always look forward to this Eid during my Middle East days.I have fondest memories that we would have a long break from work especially if Eid and the sighting of the crescent moon falls on weekend. Everyone is looking forward for family gathering, get-together with friends, there is food & sweets everywhere, and I could really see Avenues full-packed! There is sale on most shops as well.

People flocked into the malls wearing their best dresses, the sea-side along Gulf road is jam-packed too, and of course, there is a long lines in restaurants.

But What is the essence of this feast? Is this another  excuse to indulge & procrastinate?

Does this change in any way the overspending and overeating habits that becomes a norm?

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Feed the Hungry !

Just to give you an insight of what is supposed to be happening on this Eid, it shold be like this. After observing a stringent lifestyle during the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims around the world are preparing to celebrate Eid al-Fitr. Also known as the festival of breaking the fast, the day will mark the end of the month of sacrifice and self-purification and will herald the beginning of festivities.

Eid ul-Fitr is one holy festival for Muslims, which marks the end of Holy Month, Ramadhan. It is an Arabic word, juvenile amalgamation of Eid and Fitr, which means festivity and the breaking of fast, respectively. The festival is celebrated on the conclusion of the fasting during the month of Ramadhan. This joyful and blissful day is celebrated to thanks Almighty for his blessings in the holy month of Ramadhan. Muslim grace with presence at the congregational prayer service that held in morning. Eid-ul-Fitr has a meticulous Islamic prayer, which consists of two raka’ah or simply units in a large hall or an open field. Muslims of all age group wear new clothes, cook some delicious and tasty food, invite relative, neighbors and friends to celebrate the auspicious day with them. To fast in Ramadhan encourages sympathy for needy and hungry and motivates Muslims for donating very generously to all underprivileged. According to Muslim belief, they are commanded by Almighty God to do the fasting until the conclusion of Ramadhan as mentioned in Holy Qur’an and also pay Zakat-al-fitr before offering the Eid prayer.

Normally, Muslims wake relatively very early in the morning of Eid-ul-Fitr i.e. always before sunrise and offer pre-sunrise prayer (Salatul Fajr). In addition, Muslim keep in view the Sunnah (actions and traditions of Prophet Muhammad) follow it and clean teeth with toothbrush or Miswaak, and take shower or “Ghusul” before the Fajr prayers, put new clothes or the best available cloth, and also apply perfume.

Many Muslims attend communal prayers and listen to akhutba or sermon on the first day of the month of Shawwal. These prayers are held outside or in large venues, such as sports arenas, in some places. Many Muslims may travel far to participate in these activities. Some communities organize different festivities, such as communal meals or events for children, on this day.

If a Muslim has not given zakat al-fitr during Ramadan, he or she can give this on Eid-al-Fitr. Zakat al-fitr is a form of charity consisting of a quantity of food, such as barley, dates, raisins or wheat flour, or its monetary equivalent given to the poor. Many Muslims may also prepare festive meals to share, wear new clothes, visit relatives and give presents or candy to children. Cards can also be sent, often featuring the words “Eid Mubbarak” (blessed Eid).

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An Arab woman, right, decorates a girl’s hand with henna as a preparation to celebrate Eid al-Fitr that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan . Most of the Arabian Gulf countries celebrates  the Eid al- Fitr day. (Photo Credit : AP)

But do these Eid-alFitr rituals really happens?

Do you have an Eid-alFitr experience?

I just wish  for a blessed and peaceful Eid to all my Muslim Friends. May this festivities gives the credit it deserves and the spiritual harmony it should have in all our hearts.

My prayers for the victims of the recent blast near the Prophets Mosque in Saudi Arabia.

To all my Muslims friends back in Kuwait, Eid Mubarak!

 

 

My Ramadan Experience as an Expat

Have you ever experienced Ramadan ?

I am not living in the Middle East anymore but I wanted to share with you my wonderful experiences of Ramadan as a Non-Muslim especially in Kuwait.Now that Ramadan season has begun, I suddenly feel nostalgic of its memories in my Expat life.

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Observance of the Holy Month of Ramadan
I must say that I love the overall experience of it.  Before, Ramadan is only a word that I associated  with Muslims. I never have any real clue what is it really all about and what’s  happening during this important month in a Muslim country. I had my first taste of Ramadan when I came to Kuwait last 2008.

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Ramadan Kareem Lanterns -a beautiful sight during Ramadan month.

 

So anyway, from the time that our new work timings were announced , a day before Ramadan starts, I was really looking forward  to what will happen on the next days.As a Non-Muslim,our working days were  shortened and even lesser.We started at 9 o’clock in the morning and ended at 2PM. During this time, Muslims are fasting from sunrise to sundown, praying and do increased devotion of recitation of Q’uran. They are abstaining from smoking, drinking liquids and engaging in sexual acts during the time of fast which is strictly prohibited.

Seriously, If you are caught eating /drinking in public during Ramadan,there’s a legal penalty of 100KD /and jail for 1 month, (This is as per the time that this was imposed) also for anyone who forces or helps anyone to eat or drinks.But when I was pregnant,I was exempted to fast.My Boss told me it’s no problem.Normally  I just munch something inside my office and do it discreetly as possible.But the visits to the Doctor during Ramadan was hard for me.I needed to make an appointment usually at night since the shifts were difficult and more flexible at night.

During this time, Kuwait totally changed.A serene peaceful atmosphere during daytime but totally alive at night. Don’t plan to go to Gulf Road during sunsets since real maniacs out there and horrible accidents happens  because people are speeding in their cars trying to get home before sunset. There is some kind of Rush!Y ou can really feel that its Ramadan,even the weather changes.Sandstorms and high humidity becomes frequent.The date trees were budding with fruits.Even the decor were changed,you can see  traditional  colorful lanterns everywhere. All shops,Malls & restaurants are closed during the day so we need to wait until 8 PM to go out to buy something or do errands. Exceptions are some supermarkets who are open.Don’t ever expect that your paperwork in the Ministry will be done as soon as possible.Nope.It won’t be.I observed that Kuwaitis work less on these times.Everything was relaxed.Dressing appropriately is highly recommended.Ladies,be as modest as you can be.Playing loud music is not allowed.

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Muslims are praying relentlessly, anywhere.

Having an experience of Iftar or the breaking fast after sunset is really great.I love the bond between Muslims who shares meal together. Iftar can be so grand and festive in expensive hotels and restaurants but it can also be as simple as sharing their special meal laid on top of a newspaper after they said their prayers.When we go to Fish Markets,we saw the bunch of Muslim workers sitting in a circle and happily eating together.It is such a warm thing to see.There are so many mouth-watering goodies and sweets to indulge and try.I love how rich and diversified the Arabic selection of Ramadan treats.It is a must to try it when you are in a Muslim country.

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Delicious Ramadan sweets,best enjoyed with Tea & Arabic coffee.

It’s a time of reflection,meditation,to do charitable works and to learn something that is different from the usual norms.Everyone seems to be friendlier and kindness overflows.Exchanging Ramadan greetings is always encouraged such as “Ramadan Kareem ” and thinking less of ourselves and more of the less fortunate.Ramadan ends with a holiday celebration” Eid Ul Fitr “.It is a joyous time almost same as Christmas but with more religious significance.People dress up,visiting each other and sharing wonderful meals together and giving meals to the poor.One thing that is really authentic during this End of Ramadan is the mass Lamb murders.Sounds awful…right? but LOTS of lambs were cooked and portions were given to the poor.If you happen to pass by through backside of Friday market,you can see a herd of lambs in a truck,having a road trip for their journey to Butchery.This also marks the travel crazy frenzy season.Most Kuwaitis go out of the country It’s totally chaotic in airport.

 

Do you have your own story of Ramadan ? How was it?

Ramadan Kareem to all my Muslim friends!

 

How to beat the Heat in Kuwait

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I bet Siri can’t even handle the heat in Kuwait

The heat in Kuwait is real. I’m telling you, for Expats like me, this is by far the hardest culture shock I have been battling over the last eight years. But then, I got used to it eventually.

The photo above is the screenshot of my iphone4 way back 2 years ago . I visited Wafra farm to see herds of camels & other desert animals. It was on a raging hot summer, ( as it seems to be all year-round summer !) and naturally, my phone couldn’t just beat the heat when I was being out for long time in the desert. For a moment it was like that and it refuses to function. It needs cooling down first.

So How do people living in Kuwait “cools down “during a 50 degrees temperatures outside plus a roaring humidity and occasional sand storms? From the time that Ramadan is approaching,(June-July) ,it could be the hottest month that lasts up until October. So how to beat the heat is simply : Water, Water, & Water!

  • Drink Up!-Drinking enough water & liquids is essential in this arid climate. Dressing up in cool,breathable clothes & staying in the shade,one can be able to survive the strong sun here. Kuwait has an abundant varieties of any type of beverages except alcoholic drinks. There are so many shops & restaurants that serves different juices, smoothies, & refreshing drinks that will definitely cool you down. My personal favorite is making homemade smoothies or getting the Samadi or frozen yogurts.
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Home made healthy smoothies to beat the Heat
  • Boat Trips -The Silsan Est. for Boats & Marine Equipment has a number of boats for rental. Like for example the Silsan 1 has 4 cabins on board and can take up to 30 persons to the island of Um Miradum for 120kd, or up to 45 people for 185kd. The Silsan 2/3/4 can take up to 45 people from their location at Salmiya Yacht club (@Sultan Restaurant) for a cruise around the bay or to a trip to Kubbar island or Failaka.
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Boats and yachts for rental in Marina Crescent
  • Jet Ski rentals – Jet skis can be rented from various locations in Kuwait,such as near the TGIF restaurant along Gulf Road for 15-20kd per hour depending on the age of the jet ski.More than 1 person can share the time and the skis can also be rented for half-time/hour as well. One needs to submit their Civil ID card & sign an agreement that you will be responsible for any damages. I personally enjoyed this experience.
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Jet skiing in the Arabian Gulf along Green Island
  • Soap Football – Kuwait is a huge Football fanatics and during hot summers, one can enjoy to get wet & wild in the water -and-soap drenched rubber football field that can be played near the Swimming Pool complex and the beach area between McDonalds & Naif Chicken restaurants along Gulf Road. Rates could be 15kd for an hour of playing.
  • Aqua park – This wonderful Aqua park is Kuwait’s water entertainment complex that is located just beside the Kuwait Towers.Inaugurated in 1995, the park spread over 60,000 sq/mts and includes kiddie pools,giant slides, waves pool,river pools, Jacuzzi and Adult pools. It has waterfalls, juice stands, restaurants, and other exciting park amenities. Other activities that can be enjoyed inside the park is paint ball, soap football, beach volleyball and go-karting. The park is open from April until October, Saturdays to Wednesdays (10am~10pm), Thursday ( 10 am ~11pm ). Tuesdays are for Women only from 2:30pm ~closing time. Fridays are for Families only. I really enjoyed visiting this water park and their Slides is really an exciting one.

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Kiddie pools in Aqua Park
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The refreshing allure of Aqua Park
  • Scuba Diving – Kuwait has several diving clubs which welcome new members or those wishing to learn how to Dive.The Kuwait mantas Diving Club was originally formed in the early 1970’s as a branch of the British Sub-Aqua Cub ( BSAC) and  aims to provide well-organized safe diving and training at the lowest possible cost to its members.The Palms Dive Center (PADI) at the Palms Beach Hotel & Spa in Salwa is a full 5 star diving club. You can check out their website for rates & details here.
  • Swimming in Beaches/swimming pool complexes-Cooling down in the Public beaches along Arabian Gulf and enjoy a beautiful sunrise & sunset while having a family picnic is one of the typical way to enjoy summer in Kuwait.

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My daughter is a beachbum in Kuwait
If you are not fond of Water sports and prefer to stay indoors, then a trip to the Scientific Center might just what you need. Here you can view the giant Aquariums and see  the wonderful Marine collections of Kuwait.Other Indoor Activities during Summer includes ;

  • PAINTBALL in Kuwait is a combination of the childhood game “tag” and “hide & seek”, but is much more challenging and sophisticated. Although there are many different game formats, typically a group of players will divide into two teams to play “Capture the flag”. The number of players on each team can vary from one, two, five, ten, up to 18 on each side of the field. In this battle, teamwork is essential and strategy is required to overcome your enemy and become number one. Rules for playing paintball vary widely, with most designed to ensure that participants have an adrenaline-filled rush in a safe environment. Basic package as low as 6.5 KD admission, including gun and required safety equipment.
  • SHOOTING RANGE-Enjoy firing a gun, or just want to get out some pent-up frustrations, the Mayadeen Public Shooting Range is for you! They have a range of guns and rifles in different shapes and sizes. Their prices are very reasonable and include safety equipment and the use of professional instructors. Make sure to bring your civil ID or passport as you won’t be able to fire a gun without one. They accept credit cards and Knet and there is an ATM machine at the location. The Mayadeen Public Shooting Range is located off the 6th Ring Road right by the Hunting and Equestrian Club and the Sahara Golf Club. You can contact them on 2475 9999.
  • TRAMPO KUWAIT: Newly opened and located in the new Promenade mall in Hawally, the place is packed with fun for kids and adults alike. With over twenty trampolines, Trampo Kuwait is the place to let off steam. Ideal not just for toddlers and children, but also adults. Booking in advance required for one hour slots. Open from 10 am to 4 pm and 8 pm to 1 pm during Ramadan. What’s App 60694352
  • ICE-SKATING RINK: For 1,5 KD per person, there is not much that can beat the heat than a couple of hours spent on the ice. The ice-staking rink is an Olympic size and caters for figure skaters, hockey players, as well as those of us who just want to go for a couple of hours to play around without breaking anything or anyone. Ice stakes are available for rent and there are even ice penguins for little ones who need a helping hand and something to hold onto.   Al-Soor St, Kuwait City, tel. 22411151 / 22411152

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