Emirati sweets, special stamps: How Expo 2020 Dubai celebrated Haq Al Laila

Ahead of the Holy Month of Ramadan, visitors flocked to the open-air Sameem pavilion to celebrate the spiritual night


Sherouk Zakaria

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Photos by Neeraj Murali
Photos by Neeraj Murali

Published: Sat 19 Mar 2022, 12:05 PM

Last updated: Sat 19 Mar 2022, 10:59 PM

The Emirati spirit came alive at Expo 2020 Dubai as the world fair marked Haq Al Laila with glittering traditional costumes, luqaimat and special stamps.

Ahead of the Holy Month of Ramadan, visitors flocked to the open-air Sameem pavilion to celebrate the spiritual night of Haq Al Laila.

Haq Al Laila is an ancient Emirati tradition celebrated on the 15th of the Islamic month of Sha'aban. Emirati women and young girls were spotted around the Expo 2020 wearing their embroidered jalabiyas, which come in a plethora of colours.

Children are at the centre of Haq Al Laila, as they dress up and collect sweets from their families and neighbours. The occasion aims to teach children the act of giving and being a part of a community.

Children walked up to ancient mountain homes set up at the Sameem pavilion at Expo 2020 to receive their Haq Al Laila candies in a true 'neighbourhood feel' that pays tribute to the UAE's history and heritage.

Besides instilling pride in Emirati children, people from all over the world had a chance to experience authentic Emirati culture.

As part of the celebrations, visitors also received special 'Haq Al Laila' stamps on their Expo 2020 Dubai passports before they left the Sameem pavilion. Four special stamps were specifically designed to mark the occasion at the world fair, which comes to an end in two weeks.

After collecting her treat, an Emirati girl rested in a mountain home at Sameem pavilion next to a woman engaged in flour milling, an ancient practice carried out by Emirati women in the past. Family gatherings are a major part of the UAE culture, especially during celebrations.

While modern-day Emirati families commemorate the day by hosting intimate house gatherings with relatives and friends, the world fair invited expats and citizens to rejoice the festivities in a traditional setting.

Adults exchanged conversations in majlises, where luqaimat, popular Emirati sweet dumplings, was being served.

As the sky darkened into the night, the iconic Al Wasl Plaza glimmered with stunning light projects of a traditional Emirati house setting with Emirati music ​echoing across the site.

The plaza brought together citizens and expats from all over the world in a celebration that captured the UAE's core values of tolerance, unity and generosity.

Photo: Expo 2020 Dubai
Photo: Expo 2020 Dubai


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