Dubai/Abu Dhabi: A wave of joy is sweeping across the UAE as the Eid Al Fitr festival celebrating the completion of Ramadan arrives.
Families and friends will visit and greet one another and renew kinship to share the blessings of the occasion on Wednesday, the first day of Eid Al Fitr.
The festive spirit will see people visit shopping malls, fun fairs, restaurants and picnic spots, as well as head to the countryside.
Mosques and minarets will resound with incantations in praise of Allah (God) for having completed yet another Ramadan with devotion.
On Wednesday, shortly after sunrise, huge crowds will flock to mosques and open prayer grounds for the Eid congregational prayer.
Dressed in their new clothes and colourful traditional wear, Muslims from different countries will line up shoulder to shoulder for the short prayer and listen to the Eid sermon. Afterwards, they will turn to each other, stranger or friend, to embrace and share the joy of the annual festival.
For children, Eid brings merriment, elders’ blessings and Eidiya — money as well as other gifts.
British expatriate Mohammad Omar, 40, said family time takes centre stage in his Eid celebrations. “I don’t plan anything specific for Eid. As long as the family is together, that’s what counts. We could be at home, socialising over food and tea, and that would be perfect. Or we could head out to a mall,” he added.
Emirati Sharjah resident Ali Rashid, 30, also prefers to spend Eid with family. “Everyone is on a short break, so there’s more time to meet family and relatives. It’s a chance to catch up, amend differences and spread the love again. Eid is about being happy.”
Many residents are also taking advantage of the long Eid public sector break (July 3-7), which totals nine days with the weekends combined, to drive to neighbouring Oman or plan staycations at UAE resorts. A lot of them have gone home or to other countries for the break as well.
In the UAE, a wide range of events and activities are available for Eid, including shopping deals, special buffets, stage shows and much more.
Many residents, especially ‘bachelors’ — single men or those who are away from their families — prefer to have a quieter Eid, catching up on sleep and rest after a month of fasting during the long, hot days.
The two-day private sector holiday for Eid Al Fitr followed Ramadan, which ended on Tuesday.
Eid Al Fitr is the first day of the 10th Islamic month of Shawwal that follows Ramadan.
Celebrations all around
Alaa Bin Kuwair, an Abu Dhabi resident, told Gulf News that the first day of Eid is special.
“The spirit of Eid is different than any other,” she said.
“Eid prayers have a different feeling. All are gathered in one place, greeting and giving sweets to each other, spreading the feeling of peace, and happiness,” she added.
Bin Kuwair said that she and her family continue to uphold Emirati customs and traditions during Eid.
“Emiratis still go to their grandparents’ house in the morning, have breakfast, eat some traditional sweets, and greet each other. Then we have lunch which consists of rice and meat, with the family.
“One of our famous traditional things served during Eid is called Fowalla, which consists of fruits decorated in a beautiful basket. We also serve different kinds of desserts and chocolates as a sign of happiness.”
Children in the neighbourhood come to the house to receive their gifts, she added.
Sager Al Nuaimi, from the UAE, said he would be celebrating Eid with long-cherished traditions.
“Eid is my favourite time of the year, wherein we visit our families.
“The joy of Eid is associated with customs, traditions and folk heritage, from heading to prayer in the morning and exchanging greetings with the community, followed by family gatherings in the majlis where we exchange Eid greetings and have a customary meal such as harees, thureed, and Arabic coffee.”
For Rafi Ahmad Umni, an Indian resident, this Eid will have a more special feel after having run an initiative during Ramadan that saw him and a group of friends deliver iftar food packages to farmers and shepherds in the desert.
“Eid is definitely a time to be thankful and appreciative of what you have, especially as it comes after Ramadan,” he said.
“Usually I would take my family abroad, but with ticket fares being quite expensive during this time, we decided to celebrate in the UAE.”
Muhyddine Tabbarah, from Lebanon, will be travelling home to Beirut to celebrate Eid.
“Eid celebrations and traditions are all about family,” he said. “It’s important to preserve these traditions.”