Ramadan through the eyes of a non-Muslim -Day 11

Ramadan through the eyes of a non-Muslim -Day 11

Some people are very careless about their leftovers or the massive amounts of waste they are producing.



Published: Mon 29 Jun 2015, 1:08 AM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:19 PM

One thing that has struck me about Ramadan in the UAE is how much food seems to be wasted, despite the tremendous generosity that has been displayed through the holy month. Some people are very careless about their leftovers or the massive amounts of waste they are producing.

The first problem is that many people buy great quantities of food for Iftar meals, despite being aware that they will be unlikely to finish it all and having no plan for what to do with what’s left. At supermarkets, I’ve seen families pushing heavily laden trolleys of food that looks enough to feed an army. Too much food is purchased and too little is left to be eaten the next day.

If this were all being eaten, saved or given away, it wouldn’t present a problem. But I’ve seen masses of food that’s been thrown away, discarded in dumpsters or thrown down the rubbish chute of apartment buildings. I’ve seen statistics that suggest that the percentage of food waste in local landfills goes up by 15 to 20 per cent. During a month of amazing self-discipline, self-control and charity, to waste so much seems inappropriate, to put it mildly.

In some ways, the waste is just a sign of the times. Decades ago in the UAE, people did not have the same quick and easy access to large quantities of food, and Ramadan took more preparation and planning than a quick drive to the supermarket. But now, in general, Dubai and the rest of the UAE tend to be places of excess in which a great deal is wasted, which I suppose carries into Ramadan. But I expected that Ramadan would merit a bit more thought and care.

That excess food, after all, can go to someone less fortunate. On a positive note, I’ve seen some Emirati residents — in Jumeirah and Umm Suqeim — giving away food, and the staff of some restaurants with Iftar buffets I’ve been to have told me they save food to be given away. This is the way it should be, but more people need to do it. bernd@khaleejtimes.com


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