This post first appeared on Albawaba website in Ramadan 2012
The holy month of Ramadan  appeals to masses of Muslims who draw spiritual strength for the year ahead, but the season is sensitive for the non-practicing minority who refrain from the fast. Expats and non-Muslims across the Middle East must find alternative ways to behave without upsetting their fasting friends and families.  Come Ramadan, where do the non-compliant or failed fasters go?
The Middle East does challenge those who are either not required to partake  or who opt out of their religious obligations. Smokers should put their habit on hiatus, or stealthy light up away from plain sight.  Snackers can avoid aggravating fasters by politely tucking away in restrooms or their cars.
Some regions are freer toward their non-fasting population. Lebanon and Syria don't impose Ramadan  on the non-faithful, business continues as usual and food is readily available. Other spots are stricter. The Arabian Gulf and North Africa enforce stiffer regulations for public observance. You may eat, but with punishment of fines, prison or even flogging.
Check out Al Bawaba's cross-section of the Arab world's approaches toward Ramadan - from the strictest to the more lenient and free-fasting. It's a sneak peek behind the fast - food for thought!
Have your say. Are Muslim-majority countries too harsh when it comes to applying Ramadan on their non-Muslim residents? Should foreigners as well non-Muslim Arabs respect their Muslim communities by displaying appropriate sensitivity? And should this be legally enforced?