DUBAI/ABU DHABI — Residents dressed up in their best to celebrate the first day of Eid in the UAE on Tuesday. Festivities, lasting for a week, began after the Eid prayers in the morning.
After a month of prayers and fasting, majority of the residents heralded the festivities of Eid-al-Fitr with joy.
It was also a perfect time for visiting friends and relatives and heading out for short trips.
From the quiet hours of the morning to the crowded streets of the afternoon, there was a jovial mood in Abu Dhabi on the first day of Eid. Muslims of all nationalities, dressed in their best or new outfits, began filling the streets and malls soon after lunch.
“I just came out to buy a perfume for my mother,” said Saeed Al Shamsi, an Emirati student living in Abu Dhabi.
“Last night my sister and her daughter surprised me with a visit. They came from Dubai and this afternoon we are going to my mother’s house in Al Ain. The whole family is there.”
Visitors thronged Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque on the first day of Eid. Many, who were first time visitors, said they were lucky to visit the magnificent mosque on Eid day.
Like with most Emiratis, the first day of Eid is a family affair for Ahmed Khalfan, a businessman. His Eid celebrations began at his home in Al Ain where special majlis for men and women were set up.
“During the first day of Eid there is no time for going out, but on the second day some of the family members are planning a trip to the Al Ain Zoo and perhaps Hili Fun City. I’m also planning a trip to Salalah, with my brother and a few friends. We will drive all the way there – I think it’s about 1,300 kilometres – but we will stop in many beautiful places along the coast,” said Khalfan.
This year, Shaikha Mahra Al Qasimi, marketing and communication manager with Tourism Development and Investment Company, decided to leave the family home in Abu Dhabi and spend Eid with relatives and friends in Kuwait. “It is so beautiful here. People are on the streets and love to celebrate. Everybody looks so happy! It is hotter than Abu Dhabi, but there is no humidity, so it’s okay to be outside,” she said.
She said she will stay in Kuwait for the entire Eid holiday.
Unlike in previous years, parks in Dubai saw a lull in Eid celebrations during daytime due to the scorching heat. Groups of people started trickling into the parks only by evening. However, malls were packed with shoppers and visitors. Cultural activities, games and live band performances organised by some malls offered more entertainment to the revellers.
“Eid is a time for get-togethers for my family. We invited almost a dozen families for lunch. Most of them are non-Muslims and we shared the spirit of Eid with them,” said Shibu Shah who works with a media production company in Dubai.
Noura Ahmed, who lives with her brother’s family in Sharjah, said they went to their relative’s house in Al Ain to celebrate Eid. “We left immediately after the morning prayers and breakfast and we are returning only tomorrow night. We have a lot to see here,” she said.
Student Jessica Thompson said the general atmosphere of Eid was pretty uplifting. “Last year, I attended a party of sorts my mom hosted for some Muslim colleagues and I had a blast. So I do hope I get to do the same this week,” said the 15-year-old.
However, for people like Mustafa Haidar, Eid was all about relaxation and chilling. Playing video games and hitting the beach to catch some rays are what this 28-year-old enjoys the most.
Seventeen-year-old Safia Wazed, who headed to a friend’s place for an Eid gathering with their neighbours, said she was excited as she found an occasion to wear her new gown.
Star performances and music shows were also aplenty in town. Fireworks at Al Seef Street and Creek Park added colour to the celebrations.