5 Arabic health platforms that help users stay healthy during Ramadan

Do you have plans to maintain a healthy lifestyle during Ramadan? Those who are can find advice on a variety of Arabic online portals and mobile applications, which have launched special content series during the holy month.

It's not a trend that's exclusive to Ramadan; in the past couple of years, we have been witnessing a slow rise in Arabic health and diet mobile applications, as Arab tech entrepreneurs work to provide solutions that can help alleviate the high rates of obesity and diabetes in the Arab world.

Six out of the 10 countries with the highest rate of diabetes are from the Middle East, according to a recent study. As of 2005, Saudi Arabia ranked 29th globally in obesity levels; around 66% of citizens aged 25-34 years are ranked as obese, or having a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 25.

As more of the Arab population looks to improve their eating habits, people are eager for good quality applications with international standards. And there's no time better than Ramadan for some of these apps to roll out new products.

The latest mobile app tackling this problem is mDiet, which was launched by Arab Mobile Content (AMC)a content and solution provider based in Nablus, Palestine, that works with local telecom operators to develop digital content (mDiet is an independent app).

mDiet is designed to be “your dietician in the palm of your hand,” which can suggest healthy diet recipes tailored to the needs of every user and customized to the type of food in each of the Arabic countries. It also provides tips, advice and a Q&A section.

What sets mDiet apart from other apps is that it requires specific measurements to assess a user's BMI; you can't sign in for the app without entering details such as wrist circumference.“We know it's tricky, and adding it was a hard decision to take, but [the measurement] is crucial to the success of our algorithm,” explains Amr Qanadilo, Executive vice president of AMC.

This algorithm was determined by “downloading the brain of a dietician,” Qanadilo says. After organizing many focus groups and surveys with experts and dieticians and closely studying how they calculate a BMI, the AMC team built an algorithm that could operate with a smaller margin of error. “Dieticians always have 10 to 15% margin of error; the app managed to minimize this to less than 5% just because the math is being done by a machine, not a human,” says Qanadilo.

Thus far, the app is taking off. After being online for only 10 days, it already has 12,000 registered users and 19,500 downloads without any marketing efforts; two days ago, it launched a special Ramadan edition.

Diet apps for Ramadan

mDiet isn't the only application to cater to those observing Ramadan; the region's major health and lifestyle portals typically release special content during the season, each taking a different approach based on their
 experience in the market.

To name a few (this is not a complete list; please add others that you know of in the comments):

  • Egyptian app producer 700apps has published an app called Ramadan Diet, which offers daily tips.
  • Medical platform and mobile application WebTeb has launched a Ramadan section for the second year in a row, which uniquely also offers Ramadan advice for pregnant women and those with chronic diseases. 
  • Jordanian health education platform AlTibbi has launched a Ramadan page, which offers videos, articles, and even fun quizzes.
  • And Saudi online health magazine 3eesho, which built a Ramadan Q&A section.
  • eTobb Lebanese medical Q&A platform tailored to the Arab world, which launched a new section where people can read health questions only related to fasting and Ramadan.

Here's a look at the elements users can find:

  1. Daily tips for a healthy daily diet, with nutritional facts, how to exercise every day while fasting, how and what to eat.  (WebTeb, AlTibbi, mDiet, RamadanDiet, eTobb)

  2. Healthy food recipes and new ways to cook healthier food. New recipes will be published on a daily basis. (WebTeb, AlTibbi, mDiet, Ramadan Diet)

  3. Videos giving daily health and diet tips by dieticians and doctors. (AlTibbi)

  4. Q&A section to answer users’ concerns regarding Ramadan eating habits. (3eesho, eTobb)

  5. Articles written by doctors for a healthier fasting. (AlTibbi, mDiet, AlTibbi)

  6. Quizzes and competitions encouraging interaction among users. (AlTibbi)

Have you tried any of these apps? Do you know of other Arabic apps related to healthy food habits for Ramadan? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below.


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