Christians mark the day of hope and celebration

MASS Christians celebrates Easter Sunday by attending a mass at St. Joseph Church in Abu Dhabi
MASS Christians celebrates Easter Sunday by attending a mass at St. Joseph Church in Abu Dhabi

Dubai - Expats celebrate Easter across the country



By Team KT

Published: Mon 28 Mar 2016, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Mon 28 Mar 2016, 10:28 AM

 From Eid to Diwali, to Christmas and Easter, festive seasons seem to be celebrated all year round in the UAE because of the diverse cultures, religions, ethnicities and backgrounds the nation continues to welcome.
Easter 2016 has been a much-anticipated event for thousands of Christian expats living in the UAE, and it marked a holy and spiritual time for church attendees who celebrate the occasion after 40 days of praying and fasting.
Services and masses also took place across the country, from the Holy Trinity Church in Dubai as well as St Mary's Church, to Mar Thoma Syrian Church in Jebel Ali and Sharjah's St Michael's Church and St Joseph Cathedral, as well as St Andrew's Church in Abu Dhabi, to name a few.
Eateries in the Capital also made sure to treat guests like family on Easter. From colourful eggs to bunnies, bakeries were filled with decorative Easter sweets, while restaurants incorporated traditional themes and activities for their guests.
Some expats have spent their Easter countless times in the UAE, while others celebrated the special occasion for the very first time away from their homes.
Friends are the family
Robin Clark said that this is the first Easter away from his family in the UK, yet he was still looking forward to celebrating with good friends in the UAE.
"Easter is all about gathering up family and friends and appreciating the time we have together. It's also about making sure the kids are treated with gifts and endless chocolates," he laughed.
"This year, I celebrated away from family for the first time. My friends and I hosted a BBQ dinner, and we are also taking a road trip a few days after Easter, so it's still a special occasion for me."
George from Lebanon celebrated Easter away from his family for years because of work commitments. "I spend every Easter in the UAE, usually having lunch or dinner with friends because my family live in Beirut. I can't really take time off work during Easter. But I do always make sure to spend Christmas with family back home."
Mina Iskander said she makes sure that her home is filled with a festive spirit, loading it with decorations and activities for the youngsters. "It's a tradition for us to host Easter lunch every year. Sometimes we have relatives join us from abroad. Unfortunately, no one was able to make it this year, so I decided to have my friends join my family."
Camile, who moved to the UAE from the Philippines, said she enjoys celebrating the occasion with her friends, who also become her second family. "Although I'm away from my family, who are living back in Manila, I don't ever feel that I am too far away from home."
Another pair of Filipino expats, Dorilyn Malabuyoc, 27, and Johnaa Hojilla, 47, woke up early Sunday morning to go to St. Mary's Catholic Church in Dubai and continue a long-held Filipino tradition of attending Easter mass at the break of dawn.
Praise for the UAE
"Here in the UAE, we are allowed to practise our religion freely. Women are also allowed to serve in the church," said Amy Serrano, an extraordinary Eucharistic minister.
Filipino priest Fr. Chito Bartolo also praised the government's recognition of religious freedom. He told Khaleej Times: "We are privileged that the government allows us to express our faith."
reporters@khaleejtimes.com 

A mother and child light candles during Easter celebrations at St. Mary’s Church in Dubai. Special services  and masses were held in churches across the UAE on Sunday. — Photo by Dhes Handumon
A mother and child light candles during Easter celebrations at St. Mary’s Church in Dubai. Special services and masses were held in churches across the UAE on Sunday. — Photo by Dhes Handumon
NA270316-DS-EASTERMASS- Catholic devotees attend Easter Sunday Mass at the St. Mary's Churh in Oud Metha in Dubai on Sunday, March 27, 2016. Photo by Dhes Handumon
NA270316-DS-EASTERMASS- Catholic devotees attend Easter Sunday Mass at the St. Mary's Churh in Oud Metha in Dubai on Sunday, March 27, 2016. Photo by Dhes Handumon
NA270316-DS-EASTERMASS- Catholic devotees attend Easter Sunday Mass at the St. Mary's Churh in Oud Metha in Dubai on Sunday, March 27, 2016. Photo by Dhes Handumon
NA270316-DS-EASTERMASS- Catholic devotees attend Easter Sunday Mass at the St. Mary's Churh in Oud Metha in Dubai on Sunday, March 27, 2016. Photo by Dhes Handumon

More news from UAE