GAZA CITY: Many families in Gaza gather on the beach for iftar meals during Ramadan, where they can breathe in the fresh air, enjoy the sound of the waves and watch the sunset.
Situated on the Mediterranean coast, the Gaza Strip has a population of about 2 million people.
In recent years, cafeterias have started to appear close to the shore, where families can bring their own food and pay a small charge to use a table and chairs as they enjoy their meals with a
Muhammad Aidya, 45, and his family of seven sit at a table near the beach, waiting for the sun to set and the Maghrib prayer before breaking their fast.
“This year, Ramadan came during relatively cold weather but in previous years, the weather was much warmer,” he told Arab News.
“I came for iftar here by the sea at least 10 times during the month … the air is fresh and my family is happy, my children play, and (we enjoy) delicious food that we bring from home.”
At a nearby table, a young couple with a three-year-old child are setting out their meal in anticipation of breaking their fast.
“It’s nice weather today so we decided to eat outside,” said Rawiya Tafesh, 25, a housewife. “We bought a takeaway from a restaurant and we brought it here to eat together, while our son plays around.”
The Tafesh family cannot afford to dine in luxury restaurants, so they opted to get more affordable takeaway food and eat it in the scenic seashore surroundings.
“Our monthly income is limited,” Tafesh said. “We don’t deny ourselves the enjoyment but we can’t pay big money for food … we don’t eat in those fancy restaurants; we enjoy it here more than there.”
Restaurants in the Gaza Strip, especially those at the luxury end of the scale, organize daily iftar buffets but for the most part they are affordable only to the rich and some middle-class residents.
Hamdi Al-Owaii, 39, owns a cafeteria on the beach in Gaza.
“During Ramadan, we rent tables and chairs on the beach for iftar,” he said. “There is less demand this year than last year because of the cold weather.
“The cost is low here; the family pays about 10 to 20 shekels ($3 to $6), depending on their number. They can bring their food and all their belongings and sit until dawn if they want, and this is available and possible for most of the residents of the Gaza Strip.”
Some families organize feasts for many of their relatives at the beach, renting a place to eat and bringing food from home so that they can spend some quality time together.
“My wife and I decided to invite my brothers and sisters during Ramadan and as a result of the large number of people, we decided to organize the feast outside instead at home,” said Abdullah Al-Saadi, 47.
“This is an opportunity to enjoy a family atmosphere in an open space. Children can play in this place and there is less noise compared with being inside the house with (so many people), and the women enjoy talking to each other and also walking on the beach in a nice atmosphere.
“Ramadan is an opportunity to meet loved ones, in addition to doing good deeds. During Ramadan, members of a large family meet each other, eat food, sweets and do other Ramadan activities, which we cannot do except in Ramadan.”