x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Holy month even more special at grandpa's

'But every Friday is my family's day, when we gather at my grandpa's house after the afternoon prayer to have lunch'

My daily life has always been busy - working at the Ministry of Economy from 7.30am to 2.30pm, and then pursuing my pastimes of drawing and painting, diving, freelancing and volunteer work.

But every Friday is my family's day, when we gather at my grandpa's house after the afternoon prayer to have lunch. We stay into the evening, sometimes leading to a pool party or a barbecue.

As enjoyable as these days are, stretching back into my life, the days spent at my grandpa's house during Ramadan bring me the most joy.

Almost daily we go to my grandparents' house to have iftar. They talk and we listen as they tell stories from their lives and of the way life has changed.

Their stories enthral everyone in the living room. We talk and listen and laugh.

On the iftar table, we find delicious meals prepared by my grandmother, such as arsee-ah, ma'louba, margooga, machbous, harees, fireed, mishwy and jisheid.

The recipes, handed down through generations, are based on meats, dairy and cereals as their main ingredients, all available in the harsh desert environment.

As vegetables were difficult to grow, they are not often included in the dishes.

After iftar my relatives will gather to watch a series on TV. I have never been a TV person, preferring to either read the Quran, history books, or even sometimes paint until fajr prayer after which we fall asleep.

As an artist I have always enjoyed the silent nights to focus on my work and portraying the scenes around me in individual paintings to tell a story that focuses on Emiratis and the different cultures living in the UAE.

* Maisoon Al Saleh, 23, from Dubai, is an artist and has work displayed across the UAE and Europe.