In pictures: UAE faithful offer first Friday prayers of Ramadan this year

Scenes at a mosque in Deira, Dubai, show how faith brings together a massive community of residents hailing from different parts of the world


SM Ayaz Zakir

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Photos by Shihab
Photos by Shihab

Published: Fri 24 Mar 2023, 3:27 PM

Last updated: Fri 24 Mar 2023, 10:25 PM

This year's holy month is extra special for the UAE faithful — because for the first time in four years, they can observe Ramadan without any Covid-19 restrictions. This means they can freely shake hands, embrace each other, and offer prayers shoulder to shoulder.

It was exactly the scene at UAE mosques — as huge crowds of worshippers came together for the first Friday prayers of this year's Ramadan.

These photos taken at Al Gargawi Masjid in Deira, Dubai, show how faith can bring together a massive community of residents hailing from different parts of the world.

The mosque was packed, with the crowd spilling into the streets, and sidewalks were covered by row upon row of prayer mats.

Khaleej Times also spoke to a few devotes at a mosque in Al Nahda Sharjah and Masjid Yakub in Deira.

“We are very thankful that we had escaped Covid and we are now witnessing this Ramadan,” said an expat at a mosque in Sharjah. Others say that to express their gratitude, they would be doing more for charities and host thanksgiving Iftars this Ramadan.

Though the UAE is now inching towards the summer season, the cold breeze of spring makes praying outside packed mosques a pleasant experience for residents.

“It was not that hot. The cool breeze sweeping during the prayer was a comfort. I believe cooler temperatures this Ramadan will make fasting easier, said Bilal Faris, a Sudanese national working at a fast food chain in Sharjah.

“It’s a great feeling to stand shoulder to shoulder with my brothers in Islam. We missed it last Ramadan and before that. The social distancing between worshippers felt something was left out. But the authorities did it for our safety, and we understand that,” said Muneer Ateeq, a blanket seller in Deira.

Now that Covid restrictions are gone, many faithful opt to stay at mosques for longer periods, some reciting the holy Quran.

“The masjid had only a few copies of the holy Quran. But this year, the mosques have Quran copies stocked to full capacity. I do not have to worry about carrying my personal copy from my house,” said Khalid Ahmed, a resident of Al Nahda in Sharjah.

Others are happy that they can now bring their daughters and wives to the mosques as women’s prayer halls have opened.

“The women’s area at masjids was closed in previous years, and last year due to fear of Covid, my daughter and wife prayed at home. But this year, it’s a happy moment taking the ladies out for prayers,” said Hashim Abu Hamdan, a Syrian expat working at a government office.

“Although there is no distance between the faithful, the mosques are also full during the daily prayers. It feels great spending the holy month like pre-pandemic times,” added Abu Hamdan.

Irfan Ahmed and his brother Arif Ahmed were delighted that there was no time limit for Taraweeh's prayers. “As far as I remember, there was a time limit for the Taraweeh prayers last year, and we had to leave the mosque soon after the prayer. But now, we can take our time and get involved in devotion,” said the brothers.


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