UAE is a melting pot for Eid celebrations
We speak to some residents about their Eid plans and all of them revolve around friends and family
Celebrations begin with a charity act
For Mohammed Mustafa Saidalavi and family in Abu Dhabi, Eid Al Fitr is a time to teach children the value of sharing. A security expert and COO of Emirates Safer Internet Society, Saidalavi said the first thing he does ahead of Eid is visit farms and distribute provisions among workers.
"It is a way to teach my kids how fortunate they are while there are many out there who are struggling without any comforts in life," said the father of four from Kerala, India.
His children, Fathima bint Mohamed, 14, Talha bin Mohamed, 11, Haroon Bin Mohamed, 6, and Mehwish bint Mohamed, 4, enjoy the field trip every year.
"They get to meet the workers, interact with them and hand over the provisions so that they can have a splendid Eid. That is how we begin our celebrations," said Saidalavi.
The Eid morning starts for the Saidalavi family with offering prayers at a nearby mosque. Later, they meet and greet other community members at the Indian Islamic Centre in Abu Dhabi.
"It is a great social bonding exercise. We meet other community members and share the joy of Eid. Also, they organise cultural programmes and this helps children keep ties to their roots."
At home, Saidalavi's wife Arifa would have planned in advance and got all the special Eid dishes cooked the previous day.
"The idea is not to spend all the time in the kitchen on Eid," said Araifa, a housewife. firstname.lastname@example.org
Eid means a family vacation for them
The Malate family went to Tbilisi last week in anticipation of the long Eid holiday. "Every year we grab the opportunity to have a vacation during Ramadan or Eid. Although it's always brief, at least we spend time together meaningfully," Mike Malate, head of the family, told Khaleej Times.
"Family bonding is a must, especially for us parents, who sometimes have no time for our kids. Our job demands us to work even on weekends and kids are also busy with school," said Mike, who is the owner and managing director of Soura Photography Services.
Both Mike and his wife, May, are working for their company which provides photo and video services to corporate and government clients. They have two grown up children: Jann Michelle, 19, and John Michael, 13.
"We're very happy to see our children grow and moments like this (out-of-town vacations) keep our family ties strong," May explained. "Although we are a Christian family, we also observe Eid as a religious holiday and the opportunity it provides to bring our family together.
"We teach our children to understand, respect and observe important religious holidays of the land. We also owe it to the UAE, a Muslim country, for allowing us to freely practise our Christian faith. The UAE protects the family and it means a lot to us, expats, who are away from our families," said Mike. email@example.com
Conflicts at home affect grand plan
For the Tamano Family, Eid is always a time for family and friends reunion. "As an expat Filipino family who belongs to the Muslim minority in the Philippines, living in the UAE for almost 12 years has been a huge blessing for us especially during the holy month of Ramadan," said Sahron Roy Tamano.
This year's Eid festivity, however, takes a more solemn celebration for the family, in light of the current conflict in Marawi City, where they hail from.
"We are planning a simple Eid celebration as compared with the previous years of inviting all members of the Maranao Community for a huge gathering. This is in reflection and sympathy to all the victims of war in our place - those displaced persons who until now do not know when the fighting which started before Ramadan will end," said Roy.
He added: "I was in the Philippines during the outbreak of conflict between the government and Daesh-inspired Maute group. Thankfully I managed to help my siblings and some of my relatives escape to the nearest Cagayan de Oro City. It was a sad and tragic experience seeing families fleeing so they will would be caught in the crossfire.
"This Eid, we fervently pray they will soon go back home and that there will be a restoration of the beautiful Islamic City of Marawi that was almost burned and damaged to the ground," said Roy.
Roy and wife Noraisa Abdulrahman, along with their two daughters, Hana Sophia, 13, and Shaikha Shahronisa, 6, will have a simple but bountiful Eid feast with relatives and friends. firstname.lastname@example.org
Exchanging gifts is a special tradition
A 24-year-old Sudanese expat in Dubai, Ayman Zain, still can't forget his first Eid memory in the UAE. "My first memory of spending Eid in the UAE was when I was 15 years old and my whole family gathered around at my aunt's place to celebrate," Zain, who is currently a university student, said.
"I remember wearing my traditional Sudanese 'Jalabeya'. After offering the Eid prayer, my family and I went to visit the grave of my grandfather to pay our respects, which later on became our tradition even since."
He said that Eid was a special one for him because it was the first time he got to meet each member of his large family as many of them lived abroad.
"Spending Eid in the UAE is special for me because it makes me feel at home," he said. "I admire the cultural aspects of Eid in the UAE when watching many traditional Emirati events such as the 'Yola' dance. There is so much to do and see. I also love the spirit that locals have in celebrating the day by giving sweets to the children."
Zain said that exchanging gifts is also a special tradition for his family during Eid. And he remembers the kind of gifts he got during his first Eid in the country when he was young.
"When I was a kid, I used to get gifts such as toys or a trip to an amusement park, but now that I'm older, my parents give me money as a gift," he said. "Last Eid, I surprised my brother with a watch as a gift and he was so happy about it that he bought me a wallet in exchange." email@example.com
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