My Ramadan with MMA fighter Ahmed Amir: Experiencing the Holy Month in Kuwait

Ahmed Amir is an Egyptian mixed martial artist based in Kuwait. (Arab News)
Updated 11 June 2018
0

My Ramadan with MMA fighter Ahmed Amir: Experiencing the Holy Month in Kuwait

  • Ahmed Amir (aka “The Butcher”) is an Egyptian mixed martial artist
  • He believes that it does not matter where you are during Ramadan so long as you are with your family

Ahmed Amir (aka “The Butcher”) is an Egyptian mixed martial artist who, when not fighting in ‘Brave’ events around the world, is based in Salmiya, Kuwait, with his wife and one-year-old daughter. Amir, whose fight record stands at 8-2-0, has lived in Kuwait since 2012 and believes that it does not matter where you are during Ramadan so long as you are with your family. He also works as a coach in a local gym.

Read on to experience Ramadan in the Gulf city in his own words...

As an MMA practitioner with a fight in the pipeline for later this year, the holy month of Ramadan poses some unique challenges. I mean, how can you train at high intensity while fasting and without drinking water? Some people would say it is impossible, but it is not. I am fasting for God and nobody else, so anything is possible.

I train twice a day and at the same intensity as ever, but for a shorter period — maybe 30-45 minutes instead of two hours. It’s very tiring, but I do the first session directly before iftar so I can rehydrate afterwards. In the evenings, I work at the gym from 9.30 p.m. until 2 a.m. and squeeze another training session in between classes. That way, I can drink water throughout. You see, with God there is always a way.

For me, that is what Ramadan is all about. It is the most special month of the year and offers a chance for self-reflection and to become closer to God. It is very hot in Kuwait, so with that and the need to continue my training it is hard, but it only teaches us how to be more patient. It is like when I have a meeting with some non-Muslims — they often do not eat in front of me out of respect, but I always say they can if they want. It makes no difference to me.

The Holy Month is also a chance to spend valuable time with family. I am fortunate in that my parents and three of my four brothers live nearby so I am able to enjoy iftar with them, chat a little, drink a fruit juice or coffee and sometimes video-call my other brother and his daughter in Egypt. I am trying to drop some kilos before my next fight, so when I hear the azan I tend to just rehydrate with water or milk with tamarind and eat a salad. Only after an hour or so do I eat the meat or seafood. I don’t like to eat too much too quickly.

Ramadan hasn’t changed much in the six years I have been in Salmiya. The weather has got warmer, but that’s all. There a few community events in the evenings with Arabic music and sweets, but because I am working at night, I am not able to go. I would never complain though, because the gym is my favorite place. I’m a fighter and coach and this is my life and career. I love it. The time spent in the gym and those few hours I have with my family are the best.

Fact Box
Name: Ahmed Amir
Age: 27
Profession: Mixed Martial Artist
Earliest fajr this year: 03:10
Latest maghrib this year: 18:49
Fasting tip: Ask yourself why you are fasting. If it is for the right reasons, then it won’t be hard.
Favorite restaurant for Iftar: I prefer to eat in the house with my family.
Best Ramadan dish: Sweets! Kanafeh and baclava are my favorites.
Most-watched Ramadan show: I don’t have time to watch TV.


West End theater turns migrant camp to get London audience talking

Updated 20 June 2018
0

West End theater turns migrant camp to get London audience talking

  • The Playhouse Theatre in London’s West End aims to immerse the audience in the squalid camp in the northern French port city of Calais that inspired “The Jungle.”
  • The immersive play offers a glimpse into life in the camp, telling the story of asylum-seekers, people smugglers and charity workers who used to populate it.

LONDON: London theatergoers used to spectating in comfort are in for a rude awakening after the authors of a play swapped the traditional plush velvet seating for wooden benches and covered the floor with soil to simulate the feel of a migrant camp.
The Playhouse Theatre in London’s West End aims to immerse the audience in the squalid camp in the northern French port city of Calais that inspired “The Jungle,” whose authors hope their play will stoke debate about migration.
“People often hold strong opinions about this subject because it doesn’t seem to have any immediate answer,” said Joe Murphy, 27, who co-wrote the play.
“Discussion is the only think that is going to get us forward ... and hopefully this play can provide some of that space for debate,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview.
Co-author Joe Robertson said the pair had “tried to depict both the terrible conditions that existed in the Jungle camp, but also the hope that existed in that place.”
Up to 10,000 people seeking ways to reach Britain used to live in the giant slum before it was cleared by authorities in late 2016.
Immigration remains a major political issue across Europe, as well as in the United States, where the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant families at the Mexican border has caused an international outcry.
Several European leaders including those of France, Germany, Italy and Austria are to hold talks on Sunday to explore how to stop people from moving around the European Union after claiming asylum in one of the Mediterranean states of arrival.
Murphy and Robertson, 28, based the script on their experience as volunteers in Calais, where they ran a temporary theater within the camp.
The immersive play offers a glimpse into life in the camp, telling the story of asylum-seekers, people smugglers and charity workers who used to populate it.
“There were 25 different nationalities of people all forced to live side by side often on top of each other and the phenomenal story about that place was people did make an effort to come together,” said Robertson.
Theatre-goers are invited to seat at the tables of the camp’s makeshift Afghan café, where the action unfolds.
“The closer you are to the audience the better the message is delivered,” said actor Ammar Hajj Ahmad, who plays one of the leading characters.
Ahmad, from Syria, is one of many actors from a refugee background featured in the play. Several asylum-seekers the authors met in Calais are also part of the cast.
“I am proud of this, I love telling stories ... about the many people who lived in Calais,” said cast-member Mohamed Sarrar, a musician from Sudan who arrived in Britain two years ago.
The play, which premiered at another London theater The Young Vic, last year, runs from July 5 to November.