Sunday, October 22, 2006


During Ramadan a Muslim is not allowed to eat or drink anything throught the day so the meal to break the fast, called Iftar, is pretty important. Some Iftars can range from simple meals with family up to extravagant multi-hour banquets.

The local hotels all offer Iftar buffets and I got to check two out at the Intercontinental Hotel and at the Ritz Carleton. Both decorated their seating area like a uber-decked out Arabian tent (the Ritz was actually in a ballroom while the Intercon had set up a large pavillion on the beach). The decor was stunning with tapestries, rugs, ornate furniture etc. Both had lovely buffets with both Western and Arabic cuisine, as well as a shawarma station, but the Ritz went one step further with a pasta station, tempura station, and ice-cream station. There was so much food I couldn't even try everything.

Afterward I kicked back with a sheesha, also known in the West as a hookah. Sheesha smoking uses flavoured-tobaccos and while it is not something I wound not want to do often (it is still smoking tobacco and little better than smoking cigarettes) it does add embience to the setting. I tried mango-flavoured tobacco, grape, and apple. Mango had almost no flavour but the grape and apple were great. At both places it wasn't long before the "tent" got pretty smoky as over half the guests were smoking sheeshas.

It's a shame that currently Ramadan is in the hotter summer months. I think anyone visiting the region would have a wonderful time at an Iftar buffet but since the weather is too hot for touring around and seeing the sights (and all the restaurants are closed all day for Ramadan) tourists have limited options for things to do.

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