DUBAI // For entrepreneur Rania Kana’an, Ramadan is the perfect time to take stock of what’s happening in her life and press the “reset button”.
The 30-year-old Palestinian-Canadian co-founded the Charicycles custom bicycle business with her sister Zaina in 2014. The company specialises in rebuilding second-hand bicycles to the specification of customers and for every five bikes sold, Charicycles funds a bicycle for a child living in a refugee camp in Palestine.
“Ramadan is my reset button,” she said. “It pushes me to think about my priorities and what I want to do for the next 12 months and the benefit is more focused energy by the end of it.”
She has been fasting during Ramadan for as long as she can remember and from a young age she has recognised the value of the Holy Month.
“When I was younger I used to do the baby fast, which is fasting until noon, but then I started to do the full fast from sunrise to sunset,” said Ms Kana’an, adding she uses the month as an opportunity to refocus herself on what is really important.
“It is a time to cleanse the mind, heart and body. It is truly a time of reflection, of being more aware about our treatment of ourselves, other people and things in our daily lives and realising how much we have to be grateful for.”
A typical day includes around six hours of work followed by a swim at the beach just before sunset.
“[I have] iftar with my family, watch an episode of something on TV and then catching up with friends, or now that I am learning a language I spend my evenings doing that,” she said, adding that Ramadan can also have its challenges as shorter working hours mean can mean not everything is done as efficiently as possible.
In general Ramadan gives Ms Kana’an the chance to spend more time with her family and the slow down in pace allows her to better balance work with other elements of her life.
“I come out more cleansed,” she said.“I also use it as a time to meditate, so at the end of the month I feel much more energised and focused.”
“[It makes me] think about my consumption, we have a lot to be grateful for,” she said. “Overconsumption does not make us happy. Being happy with what we have achieves that.”
Despite her love for her mum’s cooking, she tries to be as disciplined as possible
“My mum is an excellent cook,” said Ms Kana’an. “Although this is really challenging, I try to keep my meals light when I break my fast. The trick is dates and yoghurt. But something I cannot resist cheese qatayef. I call them nuggets of heaven.”
Ramadan isn’t about over eating and over indulging, said Ms Kana’an.
“Keeping my meals light allows me to be grateful for what I have and also allows me to function after iftar. Dates and yoghurt are excellent sources of nutrition and hydration and allow me to go through Ramadan without suhoor, which is extremely unhealthy.”
Her advice to others fasting during the Holy Month is to “think about what you have, how much you consume, and how much you throw out”.
“It is a transformational experience when a whole month is used to tap into your spirituality and work on yourself to be a better person,” said Ms Kana’an.