Friday, 4 May 2018

Ramadan Kareem, everybody

The Beginning

Your Wealth is a custom Enterprise briefing for people just like you: Executives, entrepreneurs and builders who know that time isn’t money, but that time and money are feedstock for the one thing that matters most in life: Your family, however you define it.

Once a month, in partnership with our friends at CIB Wealth, we’ll bring you a hand-picked selection of ideas, tips and inspirational stories that will help you make the most of your time, enhance our wealth, and build a better life with the people you love.

As always, we love hearing from readers. Send us story ideas, hints, tips or interview suggestions to

Your Life

Ramadan Kareem and welcome to this special edition of Your Wealth. Whether you do or do not observe the holy month — whose first day is expected to land on the 15 or 16 May — if you happen to live in a Muslim majority country, there’s no escaping it. From changing business hours, to your favorite sin joints being closed, for many, it is an inconvenience. Especially as temperatures here start heading closer to 40 C. But many, including some of us here, cannot make do without the pay-off: the spirituality, those close family Iftars and Suhours, chatting the night away at a cafe, and of course the colorful entertainment (minus of course, Ramez Galal). But it is a full-time gig for 29-30 days that dominates all aspects of our lives. We tried to have that reflected in this issue. So, we might as well start with what counts:

…When can we eat: Islamic Finder has released its Ramadan calendar and prayer time schedule. On day one, which it assumes will land on the 16th, Fajr prayer will come at 3:22 am, while sunset should come in at 6:42 pm.

Don’t let the 15 hours between meals fool you, because we ironically tend to eat more in that short space of time and spending rises accordingly. Which means our household budgets become more geared towards paying for groceries and services, says Enterpreneur Middle East. Fintech company PayFort and on-demand grocery startups InstaShop and Todoorstep found that consumers expect their food and service expenditures to grow 50% during Ramadan, and groceries alone account for around 22% of each household’s budget, on average. A number of products see a significant jump in demand, particularly dates (73%) dairy products such as milk (62%) and yogurt (61%), and beverages (53%). “While consumers are largely accepting of the increased food prices during the season, retailers should know that promos like ‘Buy One Get One,’ price discounts, and cashbacks are all big hits with consumers in the month of Ramadan.”

E-commerce also gets a piece of the Ramadan pie: Online retail sales tend to see a jump during Ramadan, particularly the last week of the holy month directly before Eid Al Fitr, according to the Arabian Marketer. Due to the traditional gifting during Eid al-Fitr 61% of survey respondents in KSA and 58% in UAE planning to buy gifts for others during Ramadan. Retail sales then cool off once again during and after Eid. Online travel bookings continue on an upwards trajectory, particularly as consumers look to vacation during the summer months after Ramadan.

What are you finding interesting this holy month? Long before your wallet ever starts seeing that hole get bigger, the pre-Ramadan social media conversationsPublicis Media Middle East looks at popular media trends in the run up to the holy month, which mostly boil down to four key topics: charity, food, TV shows, and the countdown to Eid. According to the study, Ramadan conversations recorded 605k mentions on social media from March until late April, with topics ranging from Iftar/Suhoor events, offers on staple Ramadan goods, and the sense of community, to Ramadan cuisine cravings and spiritual tips. The study also looks at pre-Ramadan product associations, with consumers (mostly in Egypt) look forward to Pepsi and Vodafone ads in particular.

Waste not, want not — especially during the month of moderation: An unfortunate downside of the constant family gatherings over Iftar and Suhoor is the large quantity of food that ends up going to waste. Middle Eastern countries are especially guilty of over-indulgent behaviors that result in a spike in food waste during Ramadan — Bahrain generates around 400 tonnes of food waste per day and Qatari households end up disposing of around half of their food during the holy month, according to EcoMENA.

Some tips to cut down on the wastage your household is responsible for: Rather than showing up to each Iftar with a dessert in hand, consider using the event as a chance to collect money donations for charity, buy a non-food gift for your host, and try to plan realistically to avoid preparing enough food for 20 when you’re hosting an intimate Suhoor for five. Alternatively, get in touch with charitable organizations such as the Egyptian Food Bank or Resala, or one of several citizen initiatives that pick up leftover food from your house to distribute among the needy.

The waste you shed, could be your own body’s: Fasting during Ramadan can be good for your health if done properly.“Ramadan is a great opportunity to break the chains of bad eating habits,” Cape Town dietitian Salaamah Solomon tells Health24. He offers tips to reap the full benefits of fasting, like avoiding feasts and making sure the two meals of the day include equally distributed nutrition from major food groups. For Suhoor, Solomon recommends foods that provide long-lasting energy, such as oats, beans, and rice, as well as fluids of course, while avoiding caffeinated drinks, which can lead to dehydration. As for Iftar, he recommends the traditional dates and water to break the fast, before moving to the main balanced meal that should be free of foods high in fat or sugar.

While this month could be an opportunity to lose weight, AVOID THE GYM, warns the UK’s National Health Service. The body is already fatigued and this is not the purpose of fasting,” Abu Dhabi-based Doctor Hani Jaber tells the National.

Sleep can also help keep energy levels up while fasting, he adds, recommending sleeping after Iftar until about 11:00 pm or midnight, and then again after Suhoor.

Special arrangements are required for diabetic patients who wish to fast during Ramadan, says Dr. Wiam Hussein. He recommends that patients undergo a medical assessment one month before Ramadan, as well as receive educational counseling to control their sugar levels, blood pressure, and level of hydration. While none of us here holds degrees from Al Azhar, we’re also sure you can and probably should get a dispensation.

Let’s make sure you have a solid arsenal of Iftar recipes for the wave of gatherings on the horizon: We’re already bookmarking some mouth-watering recipes to keep ourselves well-fed at the end of every long day. One of our favorites so far is this sheet-pan chicken with potatoes, arugula, and garlic yogurt — courtesy of NYT Cooking. The recipe uses ingredients that you will likely already have on hand in your pantry, or won’t have to go through much trouble to find in any grocery store, and can easily be multiplied to cater to the large crowds that will inevitably be seated at your dinner table at least once during the holy month. The best part? The fact that it’s a one-pan recipe means that everything gets cooked together all at once, cutting down on the prep and clean-up time.

A few other favorite one-pot / pan recipes that you can whip up in a jiffy: Creamy chicken and mushroom chowder from Delish; fruity lamb tagine from BBC Food; and salmon, red cabbage, and new potatoes from Martha Stewart.

Food for thought segment: Has climate change is changing the typical sources of our food? You may be sourcing some of the ingredients for these recipes from countries that have not traditionally provided them, thanks to climate change. The evolving climate — which has caused some typically cold regions to become warmer and other already-warm areas to get progressively warmer — has shifted optimal conditions for some crop growth and fishing to cooler areas in the world, according to Bloomberg.

At the Movies — How Saudis feel of their nascent film industry: Going to the movies may not seem like much for the rest of the world, but in Saudi Arabia, it is revolutionary, Saudi director Haifaa Al Mansour writes for the New York Times. With no movie theatres in the country, Al Mansour grew up watching Bollywood and Disney films smuggled by male workers from local video stores, where no women allowed. “To experience a phenomenon like this in public, with friends and family, to laugh and cringe along with strangers, is a privilege,” says Al Mansour — the director of Wadjda (2012), the kingdom’s first ever submission for Oscar consideration.

The young director is now opening her own business this year: Haifaa Al Mansour Productions, a milestone for women in Saudi Arabia. The first film she plans to produce is “a tale that applauds women’s ambitions in politics, celebrates our lost arts and the return of music to our small towns.”

Your top 5 for March

The five most important business and economy stories out of Egypt in April 2018:

  • Egypt’s budget for the FY2018-19 fiscal year sees GDP growing at 5.8%, and the budget deficit narrowing to 8.4%.
  • Egypt and the EU sign an MoU on energy cooperation yesterday that is widely expected to pave the way for Egypt to become a gas export hub to Europe.
  • Central bank Governor Tarek Amer ressures the sector that the amended Banking Act will not set term limits for bank managing directors.
  • Madinet Nasr Housing & Development (MNHD) and SODIC explore a possible merger or acquisition.
  • The Cairo Court of Urgent Matters suspended a ruling by the Administrative Court the previous month that revoked the licenses of ride-hailing apps Uber and Careem.

Your Time

CIB Wealth understands that your time with the ones you love is the most precious resource: Balancing the needs of your work, family, food, sleep and all your other needs become immensely more complicated and difficult in Ramadan. That’s why CIB Wealth, in partnership with Les Concierges Egypt, is setting the industry standard here in Egypt for delivering personalized experiences designed with its clients in mind. CIB Wealth Concierge Services gives CIB Wealth clients exclusive, efficient, and immediate access to round-the-clock tailored services — whether you need help getting errands checked off your to-do list, assistance booking a business flight, or a hassle-free way to make dinner reservations. CIB Wealth Concierge Service understands that anything mundane you don’t have to do, is more time spent with those you love.

What to watch during Ramadan

Ramadan mosalsalat lineup

Prepare to binge on a lineup of over 30 mosalsalat in the 30 days of Ramadan. This year’s TV shows feature dozens of stars in a variety of comedy, romance, mystery, thriller, and drama. Nile FM has a list of 31 shows and the channels set to air them. The most anticipated shows this year begin with Adel Imam’s Awalem Khafeya (Hidden worlds), Mohamed Ramadan’s Nesr El Saeed (The Eagle of the South), and Mohamed Henedy’s Ard El Nefaq (Land of Hypocrisy), which features renowned journalist Ibrahim Eissa in several characters. Nelly Karim returns this year with yet another dark plot in Ikhtifaa (Disappearance), where she shows off her Russian language skills. Also look for book adaptations, with Ahmed Ezz starring in best-selling novelist Ezzedine Choukri Fishere’s Abu Omar El Masry, which tells the story of an Egyptian lawyer joining Daesh in pursuit of revenge.

One show we refuse to mention is that annoying prankster whose name will not be mentioned here again. Do yourselves a favor and spend time playing solitaire if nothing else is on. With enough momentum, his ratings will take a dive.

Your Money

Where should your charity go this month? The hours we spend fixated on our television sets will without a doubt give us all an array of options for organizations to donate some money to, and we have a starter pack to give you some ideas before Ramadan officially arrives. A good place to start is Resala or Dar El Orman — two of Egypt’s most widely known and oldest charitable organizations — or Al Baqeyat Al Salehat Association, which shelters widows, orphans, and Alzheimer patients who are unable to care for themselves, CairoScene suggests.

Some organizations and initiatives need your time just as much as your money — consider spending a few hours packaging food boxes at the Egyptian Food Bank, or spending time with young cancer patients at the 57357 hospital. As we noted above, you can also get involved with one of many citizen initiatives that have been cropping up over the past couple of years to collect food, clothing, and cash donations to help out the needy. Everyone could use a helping hand, so don’t fret too much about choosing the “right” organization.

Your Family

Your Imam may blast you with some “honor thy parents” sermon one Friday, but he clearly hasn’t met yours. We’re hoping some of our readers are young enough to remember the sting of a “tiger parent” — those parents who won’t settle for anything less than perfection from their children. Author Michelle Kuo gives her 14 tips for disobeying those tiger parents for the NYT.

Your Style

Ramadan is also the default Muslim fashion season. Mns of people in Muslim-majority countries grew up with memories of excitement over the new clothes they receive during Ramadan, eagerly counting down to the first day of Eid to wear their festive outfits. New wardrobes can even begin earlier on in Ramadan, as the month turns into a season of “heavy-duty socializing,” Saba Imtiaz writes for Racked. “For the truly dedicated, planning what you’ll wear throughout Ramadan starts weeks in advance,” she says.Dubai-based Bambah boutique founder Maha Abdul Rasheed also points out the Ramadan-associated shopping trends. “There’s a different outing every day, and ladies love to dress up for it,” she explains to Glamour’s Zoe Weiner. Some Muslim women like to celebrate the holy month in modest fashion, according to Abdul Rasheed, who designs conservative “loose styles with longer hems and sleeves.”

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