UAE: Residents celebrate a muted Christmas for a second year

Churches have been forced to scale back or cancel services in light of a recent surge in Covid cases


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Sat 25 Dec 2021, 3:24 PM

Last updated: Sun 26 Dec 2021, 7:38 AM

Many people in the UAE are hosting small home parties on Christmas Day as the surging Covid-19 cases put a damper on Christmas celebrations for a second year, forcing churches to cancel or scale back services and disrupting travel plans and family gatherings.

Residents have scaled back large get together with friends and instead are choosing to spend time only with their immediate and extended kin.

Amidst the insecurities and never-ending pandemic threat, people are trying to make the most of the day, even as celebrations remain muted.


American expat in the UAE Valeria Bach said, “We had a get together at our neighbour’s place last night. Today we will mostly stay indoors. I prepared a big Christmas breakfast with cinnamon rolls, juices and fruits and other festive specialities. My mother-in-law and brother-in-law also came over for the Christmas breakfast today. Tonight, my husband I will be going out while our children will be at home. The rising Covid-19 cases across the world and in the country are a cause for concern once ,again.”

She adds, “initially, we had planned that we’ll be going for a holiday to Europe but the unprecedented rate at which the Omicron virus has been spreading across the globe forced us to rethink our travel plans. So, we decided to stay put and instead enjoy in the UAE itself.”

Christmas is a day of prayer, hope and joy amid adversities and worries during the Covid-19 pandemic, said many residents and believers.

Iraqi expat in the UAE Hanan Kamal Khadouri opined, “we went to the St Mary’s Church in Dubai. I must mention the way the mass was organized by the authorities in coordination with the police was commendable. Each nationality had separate timing for the prayer service. Nobody without masks were allowed entry. On each bench, people sat at 1m metre distance even if you were members of the same family. Parking was so smooth. Everything was very impressively organized. We saw a smooth conduct of the ceremony.”

“at home for Christmas lunch, we’ll be eight people, including members of extended family who are coming from Abu Dhabi. I come from northern Iraq from a place called Minerva. We’ve been living here for two decades now. I am preparing some tmincemeat Iraqi delicacies like Kubba that are made with rice and potato balls filled with mince meat. Christmas is typically a time of chatter with family and friends and opulent meals.”

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