The beauty of Ramadan is as much in the abstinence that keeps spirituality alive as in the rewards that dusk promises for the breaking of the fast. This is a time when families and friends come together to listen to stories and tales (now replaced by television series) and, above all, to share the first meal of the day. The importance of evening meals, whether iftar or suhur, is often underlined by the care taken in setting the table.

Having grown up in a family where the art of hospitality has always been synonymous with the art of living, Léa Sfeir naturally became a table stylist, after studying law and getting a master’s degree in luxury marketing. A mother of three young children already fascinated by the great hubbubs that precede each grand meal, Sfeir says that “her love for table styling began very early in my life thanks to my grandmother, who passed on a love for immaculately crafted detail, elegance, simple refinement and sophistication”. For Sfeir, the art of table styling is “an invitation to a voyage full of surprises through carefully curated tableware, designs and artifacts that each tell a different story”.

Based in Dubai, where she’s in charge of the displays and windows of Tanagra, the luxury tablewear and design chain of the Chalhoub group, Sfeir is always thinking about how to create exceptional tables, whether from the perspective of a dinner at home or a “corporate” commission that she will transform into a magical and warm moment.

This Ramadan, three tables, three themes, are among her highlights. One has the United Arab Emirates as its theme, another Iran, and the third is an order from the manufacturer Ferrero to celebrate its famous golden chocolate Ferrero Rocher.

The UAE mood

On the process of creating her Emirati table, Sfeir tells us, “ first of all, I went through the history of the UAE, its main symbols and colors, and I decided to create a table that would tell the story of the UAE while giving it a contemporary touch through curated elements.

“The runner has been made in Saudi Arabia by a small artisan. It is white and embroidered with golden Arabic letters that remind me of the Arabian desert. Arabic calligraphy is so beautiful and can be found everywhere in this region.”

“The charger plates are in silver because I like mixing silver and gold, it’s always a statement on a table.”

The dining plates are white and black from Beldi Bazaar. The glasses are also from Beldi Bazaar. The choice of white and black was clearly inspired by the traditional clothing in the Emirates, men in white, and women in black.

“As for the soup bowls, which are traditionally essential at every iftar, I chose them from AURA, because I loved their contemporary shape and especially the beautiful and poetic words written inside: “Happiness” “hope” “tenderness”, and so on. They remind me of the poems that we can read all over Dubai written by HH Sheikh Mohammad. How beautiful it is during the holy month to sit at a table and read such beautiful words before breaking the fast!

“In the middle of the table, you can spot a light blue pot that has a traditional Arabic shape and Arabic calligraphy engraved all over it.

For the center piece, I literally hunted for every piece from antique shops across the UAE, mainly Sharjah: Camels of all sizes, in wood or plated gold, carrying treasures and food. A camel with a Bedouin man holding the Holy Quran, eagles, turtles, falcons, animals that represent the UAE, are displayed all over the table.”

The Persian mood

As for her Iranian table, Sfeir confides that she had the idea when coming back from Iran, where she spent two weeks that put her in awe of the rich Persian civilization. “Iran is an incredibly underrated country with an immense history. People are incredibly friendly and there’s breathtaking architecture”, she underlines, pinpointing the incomparable beauty of the mosques and their opulent and colorful adornments. Therefore, her color mood board went in three directions: blue and turquoise, the main colors of the mosques’ mosaics; orange and fiery tones balancing the ice of cold colors in every ornamental design; and pink, a shade that can be found in the main Iranian mosques and which made Sfeir wonder: “Are we in a monument or in a painting?”

Obviously, in an Iranian mood board, Persian rugs are never far away, along with roses and pomegranates. And again, once her inspiration set, Sfeir went through her favorite shops all over the UAE to curate the items that, in her opinion, would take her guests on “a trip to great Persia”. Beldi Bazar is always top of her list. There, she found table wear in pastel colors and terracotta, made by young artisans, that added a touch of modernity to her creation.

The Ferrero mood

The Ferrero table commissioned by Josette Awad, founder of Azyaa Mode e-magazine, is a combination of head notes of blue and gold, but always with a touch of silver. “Royal Blue and Klein Blue add a regal spirit,” says Sfeir. The famous Ferrero Rochers, with their equally famous golden wraps, are scattered all over the table or arranged in small, precious cups, are the stars of this East-meets-West set-up.

But what is a table worth without food? Here is Sfeir’s special offering to Pulse’s community: Her ideal Ramadan menu for a special year where Christians and Muslims share their fasting before Easter and Aid-el-Fitr:

– Dates with a tahini dip

– A velouté of broccoli and caramelized leaks, topped with minced grilled almonds

– Green asparagus with balsamic vinegar dressing, feta and pine nuts

– Marinated leg of lamb with dried apricots, raisins and dates and crushed sauteed potatoes

– A selection of maamoul from Sesobel’s a charity dedicated to handicapped children, a honey cake, a traditional panettone with dried fruits and a date pudding.