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

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.

Netflix’s latest Arabic original ‘Dollar’ stars Lebanese icon Adel Karam

‘Dollar’ is set for release on Aug. 8. (Supplied)
Updated 17 July 2019

Netflix’s latest Arabic original ‘Dollar’ stars Lebanese icon Adel Karam

DUBAI: Netflix’s latest Arabic original is set to hit TV screens on Aug. 8 and is called “Dollar,” the streaming company announced this week.  

The drama is set in modern-day Lebanon and stars Lebanese film veteran Adel Karam — who starred in “The Insult,” which was nominated for an Oscar in 2018 — and Algerian-Lebanese actor Amal Bouchoucha.

The fast-paced series tells the story of advertising mastermind, Tarek (Adel Karam), who is tasked with coming up with a million dollar idea for the launch of a new bank. He’s got it, but will only share his idea with the CEO. Something’s off and the bank’s hard-hitting young CFO, Zeina (Amal Bouchoucha), can sense it. The series follows the situation as Zeina tries to piece together exactly what is going on.

Helmed by Syrian director Samer Berkawi, the director behind such regional hit shows as “Al-Hayba” and “Half Day,” the series was produced by Cedars Art Production - Sabbah Brothers and written by Hisham Hilal.

It is latest Middle Eastern series to join Netflix’s cadre of shows and growing roster of Arabic-language productions, but marks a shift from the streaming company’s penchant for Arab thrillers such as “Paranormal” — Netflix’s first Egyptian drama, based on the best-selling Arabic horror series by late Egyptian author Ahmed Khaled Towfik — and “Jinn,” which told the story of teenagers battling supernatural powers and faced backlash over its portrayal of young people in Jordan.

Despite the drama, on and off the screen, “Dollar” will premiere on Aug. 8, with all 15 episodes available to watch immediately.

Director Berkawi lauded the versatility of his cast in a released statement.

“I’m truly excited to be working with Netflix on our new series ‘Dollar’ and am confident that the show will appeal to Netflix’s audiences worldwide. This project is an exciting one, bringing together themes of suspense and drama that showcase Amal Bouchoucha’s onscreen talents, as well as Adel Karam’s versatility beyond the comedy that he is known and loved for,” he said.

“Dollar” will be subtitled in 20 languages.