Low turnout is expected after a state TV poll found more than half of respondents were indifferent about the elections
In a sign of life returning to normalcy, thousands of community members in the UAE capital sang, danced and celebrated Indian festivals together and without masks – just like those good old days before coronavirus struck.
For the first time since 2019, festivals like Navratri and Bathukamma were celebrated in a mask-free indoor environment over the weekend in Abu Dhabi following the easing of Covid-19 rules by the local authorities from September 28.
More than 2,000 people rejoiced during 'Dandiya' – the traditional folk dance of Navratri held by the Indian Ladies Association (ILA) and Bharat Events at a football club.
ILA president Ambreen Sheikh pointed out that the association's flagship event was held after three years.
"The UAE has now reached a stable phase thanks to the leadership of the UAE government and cooperation of the community. The spirit of unity and integrity was showcased in this event wherein various Indian associations celebrated the festival together," she said.
Saloni Saraogi, general secretary, ILA, said it was a mesmerising view to see more than 2,000 people celebrating together.
"We feel proud to have hosted the biggest 'Dandiya' event of 2022 in Abu Dhabi in collaboration with other Indian associations."
The event was supported by Indian Business and Professionals Group, Indian People’s Forum, India Social and Cultural Centre and other community associations.
Pawan KV, managing director, Bharat Events, noted, "It was the most memorable event after masks were made optional. I am looking forward to many more mask-free celebrations."
Echoing the sentiments, Mona Mathur, entertainment secretary, said, "After almost three years, this evening filled with passion, divinity and excitement was made memorable. We thank Community Police, Abu Dhabi, and our sponsors."
Dr Shaveta Kapoor Duggal, advisor of ILA, added: "This was an eagerly anticipated event and was well-organised and attended by all strata of society."
Nearly 1,500 people celebrated Bathukamma, a colourful floral festival of Telangana, at the India Social and Cultural Centre in Abu Dhabi. Hosted by the Telangana Friends Association of Abu Dhabi, the traditional festival was marked by hundreds of women dancing and singing folk songs.
"Bathukamma is the cultural and flower festival of Telangana state. Since it was difficult to get a variety of flowers here in the UAE, the organising committee bought multi-colour flowers from India.
Women participants carried out month-long planning and preparations for a successful event with various dance performances.
"The relaxation of Covid-19 rules was the icing on the cake for us. By not wearing masks, we were able to rejoice and mark the festival in the best possible way," Raja Srinivasa Rao, an association member, said.
Stall on Telangana's traditional food corner, arts, crafts and heritage of the state were thronged by hundreds of community members.
"We thank the local and health authorities for successfully combatting the pandemic. They have ensured our health and safety," Rao said.
Indian Embassy, Abu Dhabi, Counsellor Dr Balaji Ramaswamy, Telangana State Warehousing Corporation chairman Sai Chand, ISC president D. Natarajan among other dignitaries, were present on the occasion.
E-scooter users were caught completely off guard after they were informed that electric scooters are no longer allowed inside Dubai Metro and Tram from March 1
A proposed deal from the start of Ramadan includes a 40-day pause in military operations and exchange of Palestinian prisoners for Israeli hostages
The start-up of this unit marks its initial production of heat through nuclear fission, used for generating electricity by turning a turbine with steam
He seeks a court ruling asking OpenAI to make its research and technology available to the public
James Allison is renowned for his foundational discoveries in T cell biology that launched the field of cancer immunotherapy
People pay their respects to the opposition leader at the Borisovskyoe cemetery and outside the Soothe My Sorrows church in southeast Moscow
New boy Comparato aims for quick turnaround after setback follows flying start