Midnight in Ramadan: The Happy Egg cafe comes to life in the small hours

Like its customers, the Dubai restaurant is subdued by day and bustling by night

Dubai, June, 03, 2018: Emiratis spend time with friends late into the night at the cafes during the holy month of Ramadan in Dubai. Satish Kumar for the National / Story by Nawal

If the Happy Egg cafe can guarantee anything, it's that customers will leave with a full belly and a smile on their face.

Cosily lit, the Umm Suqeim eaterie stays open for much of the night, allowing fasting diners to while away the hours before sunrise.

It serves a variety of eggs, as the name would suggest. Shakshouka in both red and green sauce is popular, as is spicy eggs and potato.

"It gets busier during the late, late hours in Ramadan," says hurried waiter Nikky Colcorsy, a Filipino.

“The food is great here though."

Three friends since childhood, Samir Al Abduallah, 26, Saeed Arjumand, 27, and Ahmed Al Zarooni, 25, prepare to tuck into a feast as the clock strikes midnight.

Cars stream past on a Umm Al Sheif Street outside on a steamy evening. Inside the scent of baked food fills the air.

“Nights in Ramadan should not be something super-active," says Samir, an engineer for the utility company Dewa.

“Ramadan is more about focusing on yourself, taking it easy. Work is less stressful for us. I guess some people have more work in Ramadan, but usually some try to take it easy during the holy month. Everything else tends to slow because of that too."

Dubai, June, 03, 2018: Samir Al Abdulla, Saeed Arjumand and Ahmed Al Zarooni at a restaurant  in Dubai. Satish Kumar for the National / Story by Nawal

Like many of those fasting, he finds sleeping difficult.

“I am awake for most of the night rather most for most the day, as your sleeping pattern changes," he says.

Saeed also stays up and sleeps on and off, dividing his time between the malls, television, games and books.

"The best dish they got here is the grilled chicken. We have it all the time. It’s a small restaurant, a bit cosier and the food is great," he says.

"As muezzin’s prayer call rises over the city, I pray and then sleep."

Saeed says there's no denying that dining out a lot takes its toll on the waistline.

“Whenever Ramadan is approaching, I know exactly how I will spend my time,” he says.

“As we consume food during the evening and late hours of the night, I tend to gain weight. During the holy month, everyone gives you more sweets - wherever you go.

"Ramadan is a time when I focus on my prayers. I eat, and go out to see these guys. We've known each other since we were little kids."

Ahmed has recently graduated and is looking to start a career, so there has been plenty of time for television box sets this month.

“I don't watch any Arab series. When I say TV shows, I think about Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones."

All three men agree their family homes are more crowded and lively throughout the night in Ramadan.

“All of our family members are still awake, watching television and snacking," smiles Saeed.


Ramadan 2018 series:

Sports in Ramadan: 'I'm tough with the guys and can yell in their faces' says superfit Emirati coach

Mosques of the UAE: 100-year-old place of worship has stood the test of time

Midnight in Ramadan: The radio station that comes alive at night

Ramadan business: How Middle East advertisers are making Ramadan their Super Bowl