Iftar @ Streets of Arabia – A Snapchat Story

Streets of Arabia Ramadan Tent - Doha Marriott Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Inspired by the success of Street Food Doha, the lovely Doha Marriott is at it again for the second year with Streets of Arabia. Dishes from all corners of the region, such as Sudan, Morocco and Qatar, are the stars of the streets. I started with the Moroccan harira soup and was tempted to go for seconds but there was much to discover throughout the restaurant gallery turned street food galore.

Headed to Sudan for stew, Egypt for hawashy, Lebanon for grills, Qatar for majbous, Turkey for kavurma and India for dahi vada. I was not disappointed in the least bit! Desserts were good, the qatayef were a hit for me. I just wish they had them in serving sizes rather than “serve yourself” type setup, people get a little too excited around desserts. #JustSaying

Service, as always, was professional and friendly. I just wish some of the serving staff were more knowledgable of some of the dishes they were serving. The setup is simple, nothing over the top, but nothing plain either. It’s a very chill and casual space for iftar, my kind of chill to be honest. It’s so chill, even the famous Ramadan camels, Bashoosh and Sahara were just chilling in the warm breeze outside the hotel with their new baby girl, Samara. Yep, it’s a girl! Woohoo!

St. Regis Doha – Ramadan Tent Review

St. Regis Doha – Ramadan Tent Review
June 20th, 2015

The “Ramadan in Doha” theme setting of the St. Regis Doha – Ramadan Tent

My friend’s and I tried the St. Regis Doha’s Ramadan Tent for iftar yesterday and it was wonderful!! Here’s my take of the evening:

ST. REGIS DOHA – RAMDAN TENT

The decor in the hall turned tent was a typical “Ramadan in Doha” theme. With makeshift bird huts surrounding the dessert section in the center and lots of lights hanging around the celling. The tables were setup nicely, with space to walk around without bumping into anyone. All in all, I thought it was a beautiful setup.

Service was great! We didn’t know if we had someone specific for our area but anyone we asked to help us did so with a smile. They were all dressed in matching, beautiful cultural outfits, befitting of the theme. There is a prayer area just outside the hall, not far from the well maintained restrooms.

Of course, I’m always pleased with free valet parking which was made available at the lower entrance of the main hotel building. Please, don’t forget to tip the lovely guys taking care of your ride out in the heat!
This is what I call a chandelier! Part of the Arab sweets offerings in the dessert section.

IFTAR OFFERINGS

The setup was in six sections, five starters and entrees around one end of the tent and the sixth being the massive dessert section in the center. You had multiple offerings such as sushi, salads, Indian dishes, pastas, Mediterranean dishes and a butcher section. I tried my best to have a little bit of everything!

I started with a small bit of salad and some of the Indian offerings. I loved the wheat aloo pratha, the “chips” (I have no idea what they are called but they were addictive!) with all the side dips including the mango yogurt. I even tried what looked like a potato samosa but it was spinach and I really hate spinach.

The pasta options were few but you were given the option to take from either the ready made pasta dishes or request one done right there at the station. I did not try the pasta but I watched as one of the station chef was making one for a guest, looked and smelled amazing! We took a walk across the main wall where the Mediterranean dishes were set. On either side you had the leg of lamb over rice then varying rices, potatoes, stews, chicken, kofta and fish dishes. I tried the saffron chicken, the fish with brown rice and what looked like baked potato wedges, which were pretty good.

Went the red meat & carb route… so far, so good.
Craving red meat, I bee lined to the butcher section to come across cheese sliders, beef cuts with bell peppers, lamb shanks, a carving board with what I presume to be a beef roast, lamb bites in pastry and Yorkshire pudding or what I famously called “cheesy bread” to my British friends!

The cheese slider was a bit pink for me and the yellow chedder cheese was not melted but flavourful. I didn’t finish my beef cuts because it was too rare for me. The lamb bites were good and of course the Yorkshire pudding was amazing!

I wanted to go back for more but we decided to head to dessert since it was already 7:30pm. Dessert selections were a variety between Arabic and western. One side of the circle had a long ice cream que which I refused to stand in when there were so many other options. The opposite side of the circle had your Arab sweets with someone helping man the kunafeh table which also had a long que, however I couldn’t blame them as those were straight from Al Aker!

And on either sides of those long ques, were two chocolate fountains, one milk chocolate, the other dark chocolate with a selection of cakes and fruits to dip in. Alongside those fountains were varies mini cakes, parfaits, pastries, whips and mousses.

I tried the mango tiramisu, coffee panna cotta, puff pastry, ghurayeba (sugar cookies) with pistashio, dipped chocolate cake in milk chocolate and some fruit. Everything was good but my favorite was the chocolate cake, absolutely good. My friends dipped their fruit cake in milk chocolate and ran for second helpings before the buffet was closed.

OVERALL

Aside from minor details, I wish there was more live cooking stations especially for the Mediterranean section. I also wish that iftar lasted a little bit longer than an hour and a half. Yes the tent is open at 6pm but iftar doesn’t start until Maghrib time which is at 6:30pm, with many of us needing to pray either right before Isha which is at 8:20pm or as soon as we break our fast.

All in all, we really enjoyed ourselves last night! I highly recommend giving St. Regis a try sometime during Ramadan where both iftar and suhour are served. Iftar is at 230QR a person, which is well worth it for the variety of food and unlimited drinks. There are also vouchers available if you have the Entertainer App.

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Ramadan IS Here!!

.يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

“O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may learn self-restraint” -Quran, 2:183

Ramadan Kareem

As the crescent hasn’t been sighted in this part of the world, the month of Shabaan 1436 is a full 30 days. This means that Insha’Allah Ramadan 1436 begins on the evening of Wednesday, June 17th with the first fasting day being Thursday, June 18th.

From my family and I to yours, may you all have a blessed, rewarding and joyous month… Ameen.

Zakat Recommendations

It’s that time of year again, as Ramadan comes to a close and Eid is suddenly upon us. Ramadan is, amongst many things, about purification. With fasting, we purify our bodies, minds, spirits as well as our material things. To do so, we sacrifice a bit of everything to bring in the new for the coming year. Fasting from food to bring in good energy. Fasting from day to day worrisome thoughts to bring in happier thoughts (think meditation). Fasting from earthly things to remind ourselves of the bigger picture through worship and Quran reading.

Zakat ElFitr, or “Fast Breaking Charitable Offering” is a major part of Ramadan. It’s been noted than one must purify their materials by donating at least 2.5% or whatever one can from their assets they’ve held for at least a year. This is calculating any financial accounts, properties, gold, etc. There are helpful online zakat calculators one can use to help determine how much they should give. Remember, that this must be given before Eid ElFitr prayers to make everything you did in Ramadan count Insha’Allah.

Remember, Zakat isn’t only finances, but it’s also your time and energy such as volunteerism and referring others to do the same. With that and reflecting on my post from two years ago, below are some organizations, Zakat approved, that you should continue to support now and throughout the year.

San Francisco Islamic School (SFIS)

The San Francisco Islamic School (SFIS) has truly come a long way in the last several years. They’ve grown with the love and support of the community in the San Francisco Bay Area. They are working tirelessly to start San Francisco’s first full time Islamic faith based school in the coming year and can use all the support they can get. If you can donate financially or volunteer just a couple of hours a week, I urge you to go to their website and learn more!

Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)

A community can not be called one if it does not have a strong support system. From losing a job because of faith to defending civil rights on a larger scale, Muslims in the US do come across bigotry and backlash on a daily basis. Through it’s many chapters across the country, CAIR has been that support system for the Muslim community at large. Educating the masses to “know your rights” as well as voicing common concerns of the Muslim community on Capital Hill is the tip of iceberg of the great work CAIR does. Your financial and volunteer contribution goes a long way to support the community. Find a chapter near you and ask how your zakat can support the community.

Islamic Relief USA

Islamic Relief USA

With all that is happening in the world, be it natural disasters or man created conflict, you will always find Islamic Relief of USA there. Day after day, I’m impressed by this 4-star organization’s efforts and dedication to serving humanity at large. When other organizations leave an area, Islamic Relief is still there, for the long haul be it locally throughout the US or on a global scale. I’m honored that I know many individuals on a personal level that work and contribute their time and efforts into this organization and I ask you to do the same.

If you know of any organizations that should be on this list, please post their information in the comments or tweet them to me (@ms_hala).

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “Whoever paid it (Zakat al-Fitr) before Eid Prayer, it is acceptable Zakat (for Ramadan) before Allah. Whoever paid it after Eid Prayer, it is just a charity.” The companion of the Prophet used to pay it a few days earlier. – Bukhari, courtesy of Friday Nasiha

My Public Love Letter To You

You are someone that owes me money. I don’t want it back, please donate it. You are someone that speaks ill of me. It’s fine for my actions speak louder than that. You are someone I no longer associate myself with for whatever reason. I hope you are doing well nonetheless. You are someone that “unfriended” me on Facebook. I’m probably still not aware of that. You are someone that retweeted my latest on Twitter. Thanks for the RT. You are a devoted follower of my rants. I followed you back by the way.

You are a beautiful, smart, funny, charming, awesome human being. You are someone I truly do love.

My dearest beloved,

I love you. I absolutely love you.

You are in my heart, my thoughts and my prayers daily. As the holiest of days is upon us, I wanted to be sure that you knew how I felt  and this letter is my humble attempt at expressing my love to you.

You are my mother. You are my father. You are my sister. You are my brother. You are my niece. You are my nephew. You are my uncle. You are my aunt. You are my grandmother. You are my grandfather. You are my cousin. You are my sister from another mister. You are my brother from another mother. You are my closest confidant. You are my teacher. You are a student of mine. You are my colleague. You are my agent. You are my client. You are an acquaintance. You are someone I met once, maybe twice.

You are someone I bumped into at a MUNI metro station in San Francisco a few years back. You are the shop keeper that gave me a great deal on a pair of shoes at one of Cairo’s many bazaars in the summer of 2011. You are the smiling officer whom directed traffic at a round about in Doha last month.  You are the barista that made my large mocha just right in the Financial District. You are the Tahrir Square protester that advised me to not join because of my American passport. You are the manager of a restaurant off Airport Road that stated I wasn’t allowed in with my friends “out of respect for my culture.”

You are the person that held the elevator door for me. You are the person that let me go ahead of you at the grocery store because I only had three things. You are the security guard that let me park in the VIP section of the bank for just a few moments. You are the person that complimented my English accent. You are the person that called my phone by mistake. You are the person that smiled at me yesterday.

You are someone that owes me money. I don’t want it back, please donate it. You are someone that speaks ill of me. It’s fine for my actions speak louder than that. You are someone I no longer associate myself with for whatever reason. I hope you are doing well nonetheless. You are someone that “unfriended” me on Facebook. I’m probably still not aware of that. You are someone that retweeted my latest on Twitter. Thanks for the RT. You are a devoted follower of my rants. I followed you back by the way.

You are a beautiful, smart, funny, charming, awesome human being. You are someone I truly do love.

I wanted you to know that every time I raise my hands in supplication, I include you in my prayers.

“Dear God, I pray for all that have asked me for a prayer and for all that may need a prayer.”
“.اللهم ادعي لكل من طلب مني الدعاء و لكل من يحتاج  الدعاء”

I wanted you to know that every time I kneel in salat, I make a prayer for you.

“Dear God, bestow us with ease to our situations, cure for our ill and mercy upon our deceased.”
“.اللهم يسر لنا ظروفنا و أشفي مرضانا و أرحم موتنا”

I wanted you to know that at least once a day, I praise God for you.

“Alhamdulillah for everything bestowed upon my path.”
“.الحمدلله على كل شيءٍ تبعثا في سكتي”

I wanted you to know that no matter the reasons, the distance or the unknown, I harbor no anger, dislike or hate towards you. I truly simply just love you.

Ramadan is upon us and I’ve learned many years ago that harboring any anger, dislike or hate towards another, dissolves one’s prayers and fasts. One’s good deeds are not accepted. You see, we must be of clear minds, pure hearts and good intentions when we enter into a conversation and action for God. So the thought of every supplication, every kneel and every praise that includes you not being accepted is in itself the reason why since then I’ve practiced to enter every conversation and action for God with the clearest of minds, purist of hearts and the best of intentions.

Believe me my beloved when I say, it’s an entire different feeling when one is not harboring anything but love. You end up making a prayer for those whom have hurt you, did you wrong, misjudged you, forgotten you. You end up loving them for the sake of God, with the intention that your love may uplift them from what may have caused them to do such things to you or anyone in the first place.

RamadanMubarak-hadeethI want nothing from you except for three things. The first is to love me back in your own way for the sake of God. This will lead to the second, to forgive me for anything I may have done that offended or hurt you. These two will lead to the third, to include us in at least one of your prayers a day.

If you can’t find it in your heart to love me, know that the first 10 days of Ramadan is God’s mercy upon us. If you can’t find it in your heart to forgive me, know that the second 10 days  of Ramadan is God’s forgiveness upon us. If you can’t find it in your heart to pray for us, know that the third 10 days of Ramadan is God emancipating us from the punishment. I humbly ask you to please make an effort with the knowledge that I love you, forgive you and have you in my prayers. Yesterday, today, tomorrow and always.

May you and yours have a joyous, rewarding and blessed Ramadan.

With love,

Ms. Hala

Disclaimer: My Arabic is not perfect. If there are any errors you find, kindly forward it to me so that I may correct it as I want my love letter to you to be perfect… =)

Ramadan Verse & Quote (Day 25)

The last ten days of Ramadan has come upon us! Everyone’s busy planning for the festivities of Eid. I do hope that people do not forget to take with them the things they’ve learned and experienced this Ramadan. I know I won’t… and with that I share with you a personally relevant verse and quote…

Verse:

“Then which of the favors of your Lord will you deny?” 

 -Quran (55:13)

From one of my favorite chapters in the Quran, Surah ElRahman (The Merciful Chapter) is a verse that is repeated almost 20 times. This chapter is a constant reminder of God’s (swt) blessings bestowed upon us. It seems to speak to me on a personal level every time despite the fact that these verses came down onto the Prophet (pbuh) over 1,400 years ago!

It’s a constant reminder of the blessings I’ve enjoyed in the past, the blessings I’m enjoying now and the blessings I’ll enjoy in the future. A simple path that we get to shape, from where it begins, to where it goes and how it’ll end but with God (swt) on our side. Throughout this path, God (swt) continues to bless us. On my current path where it’s been difficult being without my family and close friends on such a festive time of year, it’s verses like these that remind me how far I’ve come with God (swt) on my side.

I realize that it takes being away from my family and friends to appreciate the kindness of others. I was blessed to move into a family friendly neighborhood where everyone has your best interest at heart. I was blessed that upon first meeting new people, they were extremely supportive through my toughest moment. I was blessed to have technology working on my side so I can share my blessings with my family and friends no matter the distance between us. I was blessed… I am blessed and shall not deny His favors upon me, Alhamdulillah (Praise God).

Quote:

Remember when your mother always said, “treat people the way you want to be treated”? I think this quote works along those lines too…

“The Most Merciful (God) shows mercy to those who have mercy on others. Show mercy to those on earth, and the One above the heaven will show mercy to you.” -Prophet Mohamed (pbuh)

Ramadan Verse & Quote (Day 15)

I was recently having some interesting conversations with friends of mine about the various things that have been bothering us. It got me thinking about forgiveness.

Verse:

“Whether you publicize a good deed or hide it or pardon a (personal) offense (done against you), know that God has the power to pardon (all sins).”

 -Quran (4:149)

From Surah ElNisa’ (The Ladies Chapter), we are reminded that God (swt) is truly the one whom forgives. How can we not be able to be forgiving? Why walk around with this heavy hurt, this negative energy, this sadness? We hold on, unable to forgive thus forgetting that God (swt) may have already forgiven.

Speaking for myself, I was picked on and bullied almost all through elementary school before it weened out in the 8th grade. It caused me to be sensitive, sad, angry and hold extreme grudges for long periods of time. It has taken me years to grow out of that person and be the happy person I’m today. I owe that positive change in my life in part to a lesson I learned years ago.

The lesson was that God (swt) does not accept one’s salat (prayers), seyam (fasts) or zakat (charity) if they hold a heavy heart towards anyone. Why? For God (swt) is the one whom “has the power to pardon”, the all forgiving for He is the generous one. If God (swt) has forgiven them, how can we not? If God (swt) has forgiven us, how can we not?

It took me a long while to reflect upon that message and being honest when I said to myself, “All is forgiven. I forgive me. I forgive them. All is forgiven.” Alhamdulillah (Praise God), today, I’m in a great place in my life by the grace of God (swt), my family’s love, my friend’s support and of course my own hard work and determination.

I urge you all to reflect this Ramadan and find it in your heart to be more forgiving to yourself and to others.

Quote:

Not sure there’s much for me to add here…