The holy month of fasting, one of Islam’s five pillars, starts Thursday for most Saudi Arabians. Observant Muslims will not consume food or drink from dawn to sunset and are expected to socialise in groups during evening prayers (iftar). Many restaurants will be closed until after sunset for the special iftar meal.
Despite this, local restaurants will be busier than usual, with the best options in and around the city centre being those that can accommodate large numbers of people at once. Iftar meals will also be served at hotel restaurants, and although non-Muslims are welcome to partake of these buffets, it might not suit all visitors’ tastes (for instance, the Middle Eastern staple of shwarma is usually on offer along with Egyptian mashed fava bean stew foul and hummus).
Coffee shops will still be busy and serve qhwa, a milky coffee that can be spiced with cardamom, cinnamon, cloves or saffron. A small cup costs SR2.
The exact date of the start of the month of fasting is dependent on both lunar calculations and physical sightings. The precise date is known only a few days ahead, and can vary from country to country, but the fast concludes with Eid al-Fitr and then the more solemn Eid al-Adha, marking the sacrifice of Abraham’s son. Public holidays are limited to Eid ul-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, and non-Muslims are strongly advised to avoid celebrating other festivals or holidays in public. مفرزنات رمضان الرياض