Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is observed as a time of fasting, spiritual reflection, devotion, and increased charity. In the United Arab Emirates, the holy month is marked with various traditions and customs that are followed by Muslims, as well as non-Muslims who are living or visiting the country.
The start of Ramadan changes every year based on the Islamic calendar, which consists of 12 lunar months totaling either 354 or 355 days. This causes the fasting month to move up to 10 days earlier each year in the Gregorian calendar.
This year, it is expected to fall on March 22 or 23 until April 21. However, dates may vary based on the sighting of the new crescent moon that indicates the month of Shawwal’s arrival, or after the 30th day of Ramadan.
During the Holy Month, there are two main meals: Suhoor and Iftar.
Iftar is the meal that breaks the fast, and it is usually consumed at sunset, while Suhoor is consumed early in the morning before sunrise, just before the fasting hours begin.
The expected UAE timings to break the fast (Iftar) during the Holy Month of Ramadan are as follows:
March 23: 18:31
March 24: 18:32
March 25: 18:32
March 26: 18:33
March 27: 18:33
March 28: 18:33
March 29: 18:34
March 30: 18:34
March 31: 18:35
April 01: 18:35
April 02: 18:36
April 03: 18:36
April 04: 18:37
April 05: 18:37
April 06: 18:37
April 07: 18:38
April 08: 18:38
April 09: 18:39
April 10: 18:39
April 11: 18:40
April 12: 18:40
April 13: 18:41
April 14: 18:41
April 15: 18:41
April 16: 18:42
April 17: 18:42
April 18: 18:43
April 19: 18:43
April 20: 18:44
April 21: 18:44
What to eat for Iftar vs Suhoor
UAE-based nutritionists told Al Arabiya English on Tuesday that different rules apply when it comes to what should or should not be eaten during Suhoor and Iftar.
For Iftar, Muslims should break their fast traditionally with three dates to replenish themselves with adequate nutrients and energy, the experts said.
“Drink water/ milk/ soups to rehydrate appropriately. The main meal should include protein choices (lean chicken, fish, lentils, beans) with complex carbohydrates (brown rice, quinoa, couscous, whole grain pasta) and 1-2 cups of colorful vegetables,” said clinical dietitian at Abu Dhabi’s Burjeel Hospital, Archana Baju.
According to clinical dietitian Juliot Vinolia of Dubai’s Medeor Hospital, Muslims fasting should aim to avoid spicy and deep-fried foods and opt for healthier meals made in an air fryer instead.
She warned that consuming excessive sugar and fat after fasting hours can lead to fatty liver disease and increase the risk of gall and kidney stones.
“Carbonator devices are easily available online which can greatly replace sugar loaded soft drinks with plain fizzy sparking water which can be flavored with lemon, mint, cucumber or berries,” she recommended.
Clinical Dietitian Davie Telan of the Salma Rehabilitation Hospital in Abu Dhabi told Al Arabiya English on Tuesday that people should aim to include fiber-rich foods in their meals in order to “feel fuller and extend satiety for longer periods of time.”
“Make sure to have a complete meal that includes fruits, vegetables, starchy foods, dairy foods, protein-rich foods and natural fats. A complete meal will help control your appetite and even boost your immune system. Remember that quality, not quantity, of your meals during Suhoor and Iftar is what matters.”
She encouraged people to incorporate fruits, vegetables, wholegrains and legumes into their diets during the holy month to ensure an appropriate intake of necessary vitamins and minerals.
As for Suhoor, the meal eaten before dawn during Ramadan before resuming fasting in the morning, the nutritionists stressed its importance, adding that people should aim to incorporate complex carbohydrates, protein, fruits, and vegetables in these meals but must avoid caffeine at all costs in order to avoid rapid dehydration.
Vionlia explained that Suhoor should not be skipped because it can lower metabolism and aid with fat storage in the body. She advises Muslims to avoid sugary and carbonated drinks, as well as highly processed carbs like sweetened breakfast cereals, cakes, pastries, biscuits and white bread.
In addition, Telan said that overindulging in fried and processed foods should be avoided because it could exacerbate the risk of chronic diseases and cause weight gain.
“Avoid too much salt as this will dehydrate you and make you thirsty during the day. In lieu of salt, use herbs, spices, lemon, or lime to add flavor to the food,” Telan explained.
Al Arabiya English’s Jennifer Bell contributed to this report.
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