Family get-togethers top festive plans for residents, with many looking forward to meeting relatives in other emirates
Dubai: Peace, piety and joy marked Eid Al Fitr celebrations around the UAE. Thousands congregated at mosques around the country at 6am to offer Eid prayers, with people greeting one another warmly.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE’s armed forces, alongside the Supreme Council Members and Rulers of other emirates gathered with tens of thousands of worshippers attending prayers at the Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, offered Eid prayers at the Shaikh Rashid Mosque in Zabeel. After the prayers, Shaikh Mohammad received well wishers, exchanging greetings with everyone.
Delivering the Eid sermon at the Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Dr Mohammad Mattar Al Kaabi, Chairman of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments, called on Muslims to adhere to the peaceful teachings of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), stay away from civil strife and conflict, and to work in harmony with the Rulers for the betterment of society.
UAE residents celebrated the Eid holiday with friends and family.
Layal Basil, 34, from Syria, said she was planning to visit other emirates to see her extended family over the Eid period. “For Eid, I will be going to Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman, spending time with my family and friends. We will be going out together, having gatherings, so it’s going to be very nice.”
Spending time with family and friends is part of the Eid tradition, Layal said. “We had a very good Ramadan, so now we can celebrate the Eid. It is an important part of Eid that you are together with your family and friends, so we will enjoy this vacation and then go back to work.”
Gareeb Nawaz, 32, from Pakistan, came from Bani Yas to spend the day in Abu Dhabi. “I have seen and heard a lot about Abu Dhabi but have never had the opportunity to properly look around because I was always working when I was in Abu Dhabi. I like the gardens and parks so I will use my free time to visit them, and to also catch up with some friends in Abu Dhabi.”
Nawaz also expressed the hope that the Eid holidays would bring joy to everyone. “I hope for peace and happiness for everybody, the Muslims and non-Muslims. Ramadan was a blessed month, so now during Eid, we have to be thankful for what we have, be happy, and enjoy this holiday.”
Hotels in Abu Dhabi were also busy with many families from other emirates and tourists from the GCC region coming to town.
Mona Ouni, Marketing Director of Grand Millennium Al Wahda, told Gulf News that the hotel was fully booked for its two-bedroom serviced apartments. “Eid holidays are always a busy period for us. We get a lot guests from the GCC countries coming with their families.”
Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi was also almost fully booked, according to their Director and Communications Manager, Lisbeth Beneksi. “Eid Al Fitr period experiences high occupancy, due in part to the successful summer campaign initiatives of Rotana and TCA’s [Abu Dhabi Tourism and Cultural Authority] annual Summer Season programme.”
Eid musallahs at Rolla Square in Sharjah, Deira and Mankhool witnessed gatherings of over 5,000-7,000 people. Some other places of worship that witnessed big turnouts were the Grand mosques of Bur Dubai, Umm Suqeim, Al Mizhar, Nad Al Hammar and Al Aweer.
Mohammad Al Muhairi, a UAE national said: “I offered my prayers in a mosque near my home in Umm Suqueim.”
Al Muhairi said he would go to Mankhool Eidgah every year to offer prayers with his family but he had chosen to pray closer to home because of the heat. “After that, the older cousins went to meet their parents and, later, we all visited our grandparents’ home and exchanged sweets and gifts. Today is family day and we attach great importance to a family reunion marked by a traditional lunch that typically includes a rice dish tempered with dry, salty fish called Maleh and another rice dish cooked with spicy lamb pieces called Laham. These are a must for our Eid lunches. We reserve the second and third day of Eid for mall visits and outings.”
For workers living in different camps, Eid meant creating a home away from home in their accommodations. Abdul Rahman, a cleaner from Bangladesh who lives in a camp in Al Quoz offered prayers at the Al Safa mosque in Al Quoz 2 with 5,000 fellow workers.
Thrilled to have leave from work until Sunday, he rose early to prepare mutton he had purchased the previous night. “I have six roommates and we, along with a few others, have planned an Eid lunch. Soon after the morning prayers, I prepared sewaiyyan [vermicelli cooked in sweetened milk] and lamb biryani. We will have this with 15 other fellow workers in our camp followed by a leisurely chat session,” said Rahman, adding that he planned to call his wife and family and wish them Eid on Saturday since Bangladesh is marking the first day of Eid on Saturday.
Rashid Palliyalill, an Indian expatriate who offered his prayers at the Rolla mosque in Sharjah, told Gulf News: “It was a very empowering experience, like it is every year, to offer Eid prayers with 5,000 fellow Muslims of different nationalities and races.”
However, he was critical of the beggars who exploited the festive sentiment. “It is disturbing to see so many beggars lining up at different mosques and playing on our generosity.”
Despite the rising temperatures, a large number of people turned out to shop at supermarkets in preparation for family banquets and also at malls to meet family and friends.
“I come to malls and go for a movie every fortnight, but on Eid day, this is special as I feel really happy to celebrate the festival with my friends,” said Momina Rafiq, a teenager queuing up at a popular cinema hall to book tickets for the evening show.