Arab expats get nostalgic about Eid festivities

Arab expats get nostalgic about Eid festivities

Dubai - A few residents in Dubai say they miss the real joy of Eid

By Sherouk Zakaria

Published: Mon 12 Sep 2016, 6:04 PM

Last updated: Tue 13 Sep 2016, 1:40 AM

Putting aside celebrations and family visits, there are a few residents who associate Eid with bittersweet memories.
Be it the political or economic instability, modern life's difficulties or technology that segregated families, the Arab expats in Dubai feel that people are now more driven away from each other than ever before.

What they wish to bring from Eid in the past
They were from different parts of the Arab world. But all of them got nostalgic about the good old days of Eid which was marked by simplicity and joy.
Khaleej Times asked the residents what they miss about Eid celebrations and what they wish to bring from Eid in the past.
Ula Aboutiman, 24, who left Iraq in 2004, said: "The spirit, the joy and simplicity of Eid. Spending quality time with my family without the stress of life."
According to Ahmed Ali Ismail, 45 year old Egyptian: "Peace of mind, innocence and simplicity. We miss the value of forgiveness amongst all people whether in families and within societies."
For 45-year-old Ahmed Ali Ismail, the four-day feast that is marked by sacrificing animals, once meant gathering distant cousins, aunts and elderly family members, around delicious food prepared after Eid Al Adha's prayers and sacrifice.
Remembering the good old days, the Egyptian national said: "Endless phone calls commence weeks ahead of the occasion, and excessive amounts of food would be prepared by grandma with assistance of other female relatives.
"Later the praise of succulent dishes soon gives way to a funnier part of the ritual - watching female family members being teased by our comments on their cooking skills. We didn't really have much to struggle about and life was fairly simple and easily figured out."
He added that family relations has become virtual and social networking websites have isolated people and loosened family ties. He attributed the isolation to modern life struggles.
"Life has gotten tougher; cost of food and transportation have become unaffordable. People are now burdened that they fail to feel the real spirit of celebration."
But the joy Eid still brings to children is something worth smiling at. "What chills me out is how feast still make children glow with happiness regardless to modern family rivalries and present conflict within Arab societies," said Ismail.
Echoing similar thoughts was 65-year-old Samya Ibrahim, another Egyptian, who said life's challenges have dragged people away from one another.
"Back then, we used to buy the sacrificial animal around eight months before Eid starts. We raised it and fed it until it grew so big that we ran away from it as children," Ibrahim said with a burst of laughter.
She said the feast was a much-anticipated occasion that everyone looked forward to. From baking Eid delicacies with neighbours to performing prayers with relatives, the feast brought by true meanings of celebrations.
"The family connections and gatherings were precious. But today, you do not even hear the door knock once," Ibrahim said.
"Life in the past was easy. Nowadays, people juggle more than one job to make a living. People are so carried away that no one has the energy to connect."
It's magnifying glass
For the Palestinian national Rawan Al Hussain, Eid has become a "magnifying glass through which we look at the world around us."
"As kids, the feast for us revolved around seeing relatives, taking Eideya (eid money) and buying new clothes. Now Eid serves as a reminder to look at what the world has reached to and reflect," said the 24-year-old.
She added: "When I compare Eid with Western celebrations, it makes me realise that we do not celebrate like we have to. Amidst life's burdens, we have to try to keep it as alive as possible."
Ula Aboutiman, 24, who left Iraq in 2004, said the occasion was about preparations and family gatherings.
"Up to five years ago, we used to call and greet my grandparents and relatives who are still in Baghdad. Now we just talk on WhatsApp bound by duty," said Aboutiman.
Like Ismail and Ibrahim, she said that stress and life's pressures brought down the joy.
"You don't feel happy when you know people are dying somewhere. You worry about them and about yourself at the same time. How to maintain a living when the market is down and prices are going up?"

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