The majority of countries across the Arab world completely ban people from eating in public during Ramadan fasting hours.

This includes Gulf states like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar, which implement legislation prohibiting people from eating in public and forcing restaurants and cafes to close down during fasting hours.

Throughout the holy month, Muslims who cannot or choose not to fast, as well as non-Muslim expats who aren't fasting in these countries, face strict legal consequences if caught breaking the law. 

These consequences range from fines and jail sentences to deportation orders.

StepFeed spoke to a few expats based in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and asked for their thoughts on the matter. Here's what they told us:

*All those interviewed chose to remain anonymous.

"I see nothing wrong with the ban"

25-year-old Nabil has lived and worked in Kuwait for the past two years and learned about the ban soon after he moved to the Gulf country.

"The first year I was in Kuwait during Ramadan, a few colleagues told me about the ban, warning me not to eat in my car or in a public space. I was confused about it at first but then came to understand it. Even ill people who can't fast follow this rule, and I see it as a sign of respect to those fasting. There's no need to eat in front of them, you can always just eat at home," he said.

Nabil added that he has never found it difficult to adhere to the law given that he can eat in private, but just finds lunchtime hard because no restaurant is open during the day. 

"I eat before I leave to work in the morning and then pack a lunch that I have at my own desk at work. I have my own office so that's never been a problem. The only thing I find hard is not being able to order food or coffee during the day as all restaurants are closed," he explained. 

"I honestly have no problem with the ban at all. This is how things have always been here, it's either you accept them or you just live elsewhere," he added.

"I live and work in this country, therefore, I follow its rules"

Speaking to StepFeed, Lina, a 32-year-old mother of one who is based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, said that while she doesn't understand the reasons behind the ban, she doesn't object to it.

"I honestly don't get why they feel the need to ban people from eating in public in Ramadan. I have so many Muslim friends and none of them have a problem with me or my kids eating in front of them," she explained. 

"However, I live and work in this country, therefore, I follow its rules. I work around the ban, but that's not to say it doesn't get tough. It's especially hard when you spend long hours outside your own home because some workplaces don't provide spaces where you can eat in private," she added.

"I don't think it's a fair rule"

Rana, a 28-year-old graphic designer based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, said she finds the ban unfair to those who don't fast during Ramadan. 

"I just don't get it because almost every Muslim I've asked about this has said they're never bothered by people eating in front of them. So it's clearly not about that," she said. 

"I don't think it's a fair rule. It's unjust to force an entire country not to eat in public during Ramadan, especially when millions of people who live here don't fast. You go out worrying that you'll forget about this law and take a sip of water or drink some juice. This shouldn't be something for people to worry about," she added.

"If you can't handle seeing people eat while you're fasting, reconsider why you're doing it"

Kuwait-based Reema, a PR consultant, also spoke to StepFeed and shared her perspective on the matter. 

"I fast because I want to and because I feel it's my religious duty. This doesn't mean I get to judge those who can't fast or those who don't. It also certainly doesn't mean I get to force people not to eat in front of me," she said. 

"To me, it's always about the real meaning behind a fast. It's about endurance, spirituality and finding peace. I mean, if you can't handle seeing people eat while you're fasting, reconsider why you're doing it. If you want to force people to fast in front of you, reconsider why you're doing it," she added. 

Reema also explained that she hopes Arab countries start reversing Ramadan public eating bans soon.

"It's sad to read about people being arrested in Egypt or Kuwait or anywhere else because of this. It's just not acceptable and completely ruins the true meaning of Ramadan. I've heard that in some countries, including the UAE, a number of restaurants are now open to the public during the day in Ramadan. I've also heard that authorities have become more lenient when it comes to the ban in recent years. I hope it only keeps getting better from here onwards," she said.

"Fasting shouldn't be forced on everyone who's outside their home"

Khaled, a 29-year-old engineer based in Kuwait, also weighed in on the matter, saying that he's completely against the Ramadan public eating ban.

"Fasting shouldn't be forced on everyone who's outside their home. I just find it disrespectful to the millions of non-Muslims who live in these countries. People aren't allowed to chew gum or take a sip of water in public during Ramadan and honestly, I can't understand why. Some of them eat in secret and are so afraid of being caught, it's just not OK," he said. 

"It isn't going to hurt anyone's feelings if someone eats or drinks in front of a person who's fasting. We all have people in our own homes who can't fast, whether it's due to illness or anything else, do we force them not to eat in front of us? No. If someone wants to avoid eating in front of those fasting out of respect or because it makes them uncomfortable, it should be their own decision, not something that's forced on them," he added.

"I am Muslim and I find this ban ridiculous"

Sarah, a 27-year-old Egyptian teacher based in Saudi Arabia, said that she fasts during Ramadan and finds the public eating ban completely unacceptable. 

"I am Muslim and I find this ban ridiculous. Think of it like this, if I lived in a non-Muslim country, would I be OK with them forcing me to adhere to their religious duties? Never. So why expect people who aren't Muslim to follow this rule?" she asked. 

"It's not only about people who aren't Muslim, it's also about those within the faith who can't fast and others who choose not to, or who aren't ready for it. You can't force people to fast, it defies the entire purpose behind the concept," she explained. 

The young teacher hopes this ban will soon be reconsidered in countries across the region. 

"Having to explain this ban to my non-Muslim friends is the worst thing too because there's no real reason behind it, nothing in our religion that states it. I think all Arab countries who currently enforce it must reconsider, that's essential," she added.