Dubai resident commits to full fast during Ramadan to honour Muslim friends

Liberty Gelderloos has spent more than a decade in the Middle East but chose Dubai for her first full fast

A Dubai resident has pledged to fast for the full month of Ramadan in a bid to honour her Muslim friends.

Having lived in the Middle East for 13 years, American-born Liberty Gelderloos, 39, is well versed in the practice of Ramadan but has never observed the tradition of fasting.

After watching friends and colleagues abstain from food and drink from dawn until dusk throughout the holy month, she said she wanted to try it herself and get back to basics.

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The first day felt good. I woke up at 4.30am, had a tonne of water to try and hydrate my body for the day ahead, then had my next sip of water at Iftar
Liberty Gelderloos

“I lived in Iran for nine years before moving to Dubai and was always curious to try a fast, but I just never got around to fully committing to it,” she said.

“I was with one of my friends in Abu Dhabi at the weekend and she was preparing to mark her first day of fast so I thought, why not join her as a mark of respect.

“The first day felt good. I woke up at 4.30am, had a tonne of water to try and hydrate my body for the day ahead, then had my next sip of water at iftar.

“It was the best sip of water I ever had in my life.”

Liberty Gelderloos breaks her fast with water and dates. 'I feel very quiet, calm and I feel like my senses are enhanced,' she says, of the daily fast. Antonie Robertson / The National

Despite a few headaches during the first few days, Ms Gelderoos, a wellness practitioner, said the concept of fasting has already taught her a lot about gratitude.

She said she has more time in her day to reflect on lessons learnt and she enjoys not having to fuss about preparing and breaking for food and drink several times a day.

“I feel very quiet, calm and I feel like my senses are enhanced,” she said.

“My Muslim friends have been doing this for most of their lives and they always tell me it’s the time of year they look forward to the most.

“They spend quality time with family at suhoor and iftar and it gives them a deep appreciation for everything they have.

“I think fasting during Ramadan is a great commitment to yourself, your body, your spirit and for Muslims, their faith.”

In terms of her daily routine, Ms Gelderloos said it has stayed pretty much the same, other than waking up early to drink water during suhoor.

Unlike some, she said she doesn’t nap during the day and does a 45-minute kundalini yoga session just before iftar.

“I can’t explain it, but I have really high energy at that time, that’s why I work out,” she said.

“My friends that fast tend to work out just before iftar too, so I guess I am following in their footsteps.

“I was also told to break my fast with a date first, then water. I was doing it the other way around. I’m really enjoying the experience and sharing my story with others. It sparks a lot of curiosity.”

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Updated: April 06, 2022, 7:47 AM
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