Snapchat, selfies and Eid...

Dhanusha Gokulan (Principal Correspondent)/Dubai/Abu Dhabi Filed on July 18, 2015 | Last updated on July 18, 2015 at 06.43 am
Snapchat, selfies and Eid...

Kids playing at the Mall as their family celebrates Eid at the Mercato Mall in Dubai on Friday, July 17, 2015.
(Dhes Handumon)

Screenshot of Ridhan Assadi’s (standing) snapchat with friends; (centre) fireworks at The Beach, Dubai; and (right) at the Creek Park, Dubai.
(Photos: Supplied, Dhes Handumon and Mohammad Mustafa Khan)

At the Creek Park, Dubai.
(Photos: Supplied, Dhes Handumon and Mohammad Mustafa Khan)

ONE FOR KEEPS ... at Burjuman, Dubai. —Photo by Neeraj Murali
(Neeraj Murali)

Fireworks at The Beach, Dubai.
(Photos: Supplied, Dhes Handumon and Mohammad Mustafa Khan)

#Eidmubarak trends on all social media platforms.

What is the most creative way to wish or greet your friends and loved ones on the occasion of Eid Al Fitr? When Khaleej Times asked Dubai resident and marketing professional Ridhan Assadi, his answer was quick and efficient - over Snapchat. "I uploaded short videos (stories) of the morning prayers on the social media platform, after which I uploaded a snap of Eid breakfast, and later snaps of festivities. I send the story to every one on my friends list on Snapchat," said Assadi.

After the morning prayers at the Eid gah in Deira, several youngsters pulled out their smart phones and began taking animated selfies to upload it on various social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat.

While adults still make phone calls and pay house visits to wish and share festivities with their loved ones, youngsters are all about sharing their Eid moments on social media.

The trendy app that serves as a story-telling platform for users is best known for a feature that allows them to take photos or videos that vanish a few seconds after they are viewed (5 to 10 seconds since March 2015). Snapchat itself features Eid Al Fitr as a story on the app featuring hundreds of stories from Jakarta, Riyadh, and Dubai. Twitter was abuzz with Eid wishes with the hashtag #EidMubarak predominating over the Twitterverse. Users uploaded pictures and short videos of festivities. Emirati national Sara Al Boom with the Twitter handle @saraalboom tweeted: "Time for awkward hugs, free money, and terrible selfies."

Fatima Mohammed, another Emirati said most youngsters, especially Emiratis love using Snapchat. "Yes it's true that traditionally we go to our relatives' homes and wish them and celebrate Eid with them. However, now a lot of the wishes and celebrations are up on social media platforms for the world to see. It's not necessarily a bad thing, because we still celebrate Eid with our loved ones," said Mohammed.

Heat drives celebrations to shopping malls

Dubai Mall has recorded huge footfalls since the sweltering heat has made residents shy away from barbeques and celebrations in parks. Suhail Latif, an Indian national said: "Usually I celebrate Eid with my family in various parks across the Emirate. It's either Zabeel park or it is Safa park. But the weather is unbearable and we prefer celebrating at home. Later in the evening, we will visit shopping malls."

However for some households, Eid is a strict family affair and people shy away from shopping malls and parks.

Syrian national and 22-year-old student Mariam Hannoush said: "Eid is strictly a family affair. After last minute shopping and visits to the salon to apply mehendi, we visit houses of all our relatives to celebrate. The tradition has been like that for years now and I don't think it will change either."

Eid in the Capital

Eid Al Fitr celebrations began in the Capital on Thursday evening with backyard fireworks in some residential areas. The most popular Arab restaurants were busy taking in delivery orders for the first day of Eid lunch, while shops and supermarkets were busy till late at night for last-minute food, sweets and even gift shopping.

The last night of Ramadan fervour was, however, not mirrored on the first day of Eid in Abu Dhabi. After the early morning prayers, the streets, beaches, parks of the city seemed deserted.

The 45 degrees Celsius kept many people indoors on Friday, while others, especially government employees, took advantage of the long Eid break to book a holiday outside Abu Dhabi.

"We are spending two days at the Address hotel in Dubai and three days in Banyan Tree in Ras Al Khaimah," said Amro Al Tamimi, an Emirati from Abu Dhabi.

"Hotels nearly double their fares over Eid - I'm spending Dh10,000 in accommodation only for me, my wife and my eight-year-old-son for these five days. But it is nice to have a break and change the scenery," he told Khaleej Times.

For top five star hotels and resorts in Abu Dhabi, it was mostly business as usual. Apart from oversees tourists, they were mostly busy on the first day of Eid with Western expats, happy to resume their favourite Friday pastime - brunch.

Most hotels have dropped Eid inspired meals and buffets simply because they proved unpopular.

"Most people celebrate Eid with friends and family, at home, so we have our usual buffet opened, but we found there is no demand for an Eid buffet," said Yves Tarabout, deputy general manager of Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel and Resort.

Even hotel resorts seemed pretty quiet yesterday. Emirates Palace, St. Regis Abu Dhabi and Hilton had their beach chairs untouched most of the day, and even the city's oldest and most popular beach, the Corniche, was mostly deserted.

Again, it was mostly the Western expat residents who braved the early afternoon sun and filled up the Saadiyat beach considered the best public beach in Abu Dhabi, the only one with uninterrupted sea views.

The popular corniche promenade was also lifeless for much of the day, with only a few labourers enjoying a walk by the sea, and some even attempting fishing.

As the day went along, malls began to come to life, especially Marina Mall, which also had a few shows for children in the evening.

The water fountain in the mall's atrium and the revolving restaurant atop the mall's tower seemed the most popular destinations at Marina Mall, while most shops, failing to offer any Eid discounts, remained empty.

Another big attraction in Marina Mall was a public exhibit of an original, 143 years old door cover of the Holly Kaaba in Mecca. The over three metres high cloth was sewn in the 1293 Hijri year (1876 AD), made from pure silk and embroided with Quranic verses and Islamic motifs using gold and silver thread.

The sanctified cloth was commissioned by Abdul Hamid II, the 34th sultan of the Ottoman Empire, and designed and woven under the supervision of Ismail Pasha - the ruler of Egypt at that time.

The Kaaba door cover will be on display at Marina Mall until August 1.


Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for over ten years. For Khaleej Times, she covers NRI affairs, civil aviation, and immigration issues among other things. She completed her BA in Journalism, Economics and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008 and is currently pursuing her MA in Leadership and Innovation in Contemporary Media at the American University in Dubai. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves food, and is mom to an over-enthusiastic Labrador retriever. Tweet at her @shootsprintrite.

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