Ibn Battuta, Ramadan, & Iftar in Dubai

A few days ago, I went to my first doctor’s appointment in Dubai. The clinic’s office happens to be located inside of one of Dubai’s many shopping centers, the Ibn Battuta Mall. While I found it strange to find a fully operational medical clinic inside of a mall, I soon realized that it was the perfect location for a clinic!

After a physical exam (nothing to get excited about… just a yearly checkup) and getting some blood drawn (ugh… my least favorite thing), it was so nice to relax immediately after my doctor’s appointment with some retail therapy and a caramel macchiato at Starbucks. While I enjoyed my coffee, I took the moment to savor the beauty of the Ibn Battuta Mall.

As I sipped my macchiato, I gazed up at the rotunda of the Persia Court. The Ibn Battuta Mall has six distinct areas with decorative themes ranging from Egyptian to Chinese, but the Persia Court is by far my favorite simply because of the mosaic tiles that adorn every inch of the walls and ceiling. It makes you feel as if you’ve been transported to a magical time and place, and it is a perfect place to sit and relax after being poked and prodded by the doctor.

Venture & Roam: Ibn Battuta Mall Dubai Persia Court
A hallway in the Persia Court of the Ibn Battuta Mall in Dubai.
Venture & Roam: Ibn Battuta Mall Dubai Persia Court - mosaic tiled ceiling
The rotunda of the Persia Court.
Venture & Roam: Ibn Battuta Mall Dubai Persia Court - mosaic tiled ceiling
Stunning tile work on the ceiling of the Ibn Battuta Mall in Dubai. 
Venture & Roam: Ibn Battuta Mall Dubai Persia Court - mosaic tiled ceiling
Ahhh, Starbucks.

That was one of the last times that I will be able to enjoy coffee in public during the day. Two days ago the Holy Month of Ramadan began, and the entire U.A.E. adheres to the rules of fasting. Over the next 30 days, it is prohibited by law to eat, drink, smoke, or chew gum in public. (Fear not, non-Muslims may do all of the aforementioned activities in the privacy of their home!) Ramadan, which requires fasting from sunrise to sunset (no small feat in Dubai, where the sun begins to rise at 5am, and does not set until after 7pm) serves as time for spiritual reflection and purification.

For my husband and myself, this is the first time that we have experienced Ramadan. After trying to fast for the first day of Ramadan (in an effort to try to learn about and understand the local culture), we have developed some serious respect for the people who will be fasting for the next month. It is not easy to spend one day refraining from food and water, and we cannot imagine the discipline it must take in order to complete 30 days of fasting.

While we have had to adjust our habits to refrain from eating and drinking (and in my husband’s case, smoking) in public, we have had absolutely no problem adjusting to the tradition of Iftar! An important aspect of Ramadan, Iftar is the tradition of breaking fast at sunset with the community and family. Here in Dubai, where everything is bigger and better, Iftar is a feast that is hard to compare.

Venture & Roam: Ramadan Decorations for Iftar in Dubai
Decorations outside of Seasons at the Pullman Dubai
Venture & Roam: Ramadan Decorations for Iftar in Dubai
Dates, dried apricots, and Moroccan mint tea for Iftar

We went to the Iftar buffet at the restaurant in our building on the first night of Ramadan (and the second night too, it was that good!). After not eating for an entire day, we stuffed our faces with the incredible selection of traditional Arabic dishes, international cuisine, and unlimited local desserts. Our favorite dishes were the Lamb Ouzi, a dish that involves slowly roasting lamb over spiced rice, and Umm Ali, a dessert similar to bread pudding. (omg, i’m already drooling again!)

Venture & Roam: Traditional Lamb Ouzi at the Iftar buffet - Seasons Pullman Dubai
Lamb Ouzi
Venture & Roam: Arabic Sweets for dessert at Iftar buffet - Seasons Pullman Dubai
Arabic Sweets, lots of pistachios & dripping with honey
Venture & Roam: Traditional Arabic desserts, including Umm Ali - Seasons Pullman Dubai
Desserts (from L to R: Rosewater & Pistachio Panna Cotta, Creme Caramel, Umm Ali)

While I’m certain that I may not have to eat for the next week after our two Iftar meals (maybe that is the key to surviving Ramadan!), I keep dreaming about our next Iftar. And if the grandeur of Iftar is any indication of the traditions of Ramadan, I’m sure that we’ll be just fine over the next month! Ramadan Kareem, & En Guete!

Life is short. Live it well!

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