Ramadan 2024: How UAE families plan to celebrate Hag Al Laila this year

Emirati families celebrate with children dressed in traditional clothes, enjoying old songs and playing games


Ruqayya Al Qaydi

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Supplied photos
Supplied photos

Published: Thu 22 Feb 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Thu 22 Feb 2024, 10:52 PM

It’s a special occasion that brings families and communities together. Celebrated on the 15th night of Sha'ban, Hag Al Laila – also known as Qargian – is a tradition and cultural heritage passed down through generations that is observed not only in the UAE, but also in other Gulf countries, to welcome the arrival of the holy month of Ramadan.

In the past, children in the UAE would carry bags and roam the streets from afternoon until sunset to collect candies, while they sang delightful songs for the elders. They would then gather at the end of the day to enjoy the sweets and colourful homemade juices.

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Today, Emirati families have kept the tradition of celebrating Hag Al Laila with children dressed in traditional clothes enjoying old songs and playing games. Families have also kept the practice of decorating their homes in bright colours and distributing special treats such as nuts and chocolates to children.

Magical night

“Our children eagerly await Hag Al Laila each year," Emirati mother Mariam Ali told Khaleej Times, explaining: “It's a magical time for them to connect with their cultural roots and create memories with family and friends."

Photos supplied by Mariam Ali
Photos supplied by Mariam Ali

Maitha Al Hashmi, a mother of four children from Dubai, added: "Hag Al Laila is a significant cultural heritage passed down through generations that is why we celebrate it every year to keep the tradition for our children."

“This year will be extra special, God willing,” Maitha added, sharing: “We're organising several activities at my father's house with a simple theme and candy distribution for the children."

Maitha Al Hashmi and family
Maitha Al Hashmi and family

‘Generosity, unity, and gratitude’

Reflecting on the significance of preserving cultural practices, Hessa Al Shehhi from Ras Al-Khaimah, said: "It is our responsibility to pass down these customs to present and future generations. Hag Al Laila serves as a reminder of the values of generosity, unity, and gratitude that define our society."

Watch a video from Hessa Al Shehhi here:

In Dubai, the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority will host heritage activities in celebration of Hag Al Laila in Al Shindagha’s historic neighbourhood. One of the various activities is jewellery-making workshop titled ‘Making of Marriya Umm Al Schnaff’ that will inspire children to explore the traditional craft of making jewellery.

Other workshops will focus on the origin and creation of traditional Emirati attire and its importance in local culture. There will also be a henna workshop teaching children how to mix henna and create unique designs.

Children will also have the opportunity to collect gifts and sweets and participate in popular games such as ‘Al Karabi’ and ‘Shad Al Habl’ while touring between the houses and singing ‘Atoona Hag Al Laila’ which highlights the value of giving and sharing during the blessed night.


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