We’re one week into Ramadan - the annual Holy Month of Islam. New to the scene? Maybe you’re an expat in the midst of majority Muslim Middle East, Persia or Southeast Asia. Or perhaps you’re a less observant Muslim, choosing not to fully engage. Feeling a little disoriented or even intimidated by this month-long tradition of spiritual contemplation, communal fasting and feasting?  We bring you a few reminders of what’s cool, what’s risque and what’s possibly a new perspective to help you sail through this lunar month of ancient observances.
The spirit of Ramadan has the power to pull in non-Muslims, a common phenomenon where even non-believers can be captivated by the twin moods of discipline and appreciation.  (Christians don’t hold a monopoly on “seasons to be jolly”!) Most Muslims approach the month as a continuous nighttime celebration of friends and family. Work obligations get put on the back-burner and our usual daytime social lives are shelved as we rack up family-time points sitting around sharing special evening meals and watching Ramadan’s rich TV soap-opera line-up (and of course, the World Cup!). 
To fast or not to fast?
It is not for us to cast judgement on your to fast or not to fast reckonings, but for the non-initiated we can throw some light on some ways for you to actually enjoy Ramadan! You are probably familiar with the givens that come with the Ramadan territory-- the fasting from food and water from dawn till dusk, but are you prepared for the rest of what accompanies the basic ground rules to a month of hard and fast rules, in terms of the mood, habits and extra frills of the month?
What to expect this month
Friends, foreigners and fast-shirkers, here’s how to play your cards right as an outsider, without foregoing the seasonal goodwill and spirit of the occasion. Check out Al Bawaba’s “life hacks for surviving” - at the very least coping, or maybe even exploiting! - the best bits of the season. Our Ramadan survival guide documents 16 things to expect or tacks to take if you're new or strange to the fasting month, besides the obvious do's and don't's.
Immerse yourself in the “second wind” that blows through Ramadan nights as people strive to squeeze in all the life they can until fasting resumes at dawn. And whatever you do, or don't do, make sure to indulge in all the seasonal cheer even if you choose to eat and skip prayers in the wee-hours of the night.