Dubai: The UAE is at its festive best this Eid Al Fitr after two years of COVID-19 restrictions that had made it difficult for people to hold community celebrations. This year, Eid festivities have begun with gusto as extended circles of families and friends have come together right after the Eid prayers to share food, best wishes, Eidiya, laughter and bonhomie.
For the Almededdines — Lina Fadi and their children Zane, Luana and Jude — Eid this year is special. Lina told Gulf News: “We had a sumptuous Eid breakfast with at least ten members of our extended family and was such a joyous feel as we could do this after a gap of two years.”
She further said: “The fear of COVID-19 is gone now. In our family, most of us had tested positive for the virus. So, we took the vaccinations and the booster doses as well and looked forward to the Eid Al Fitr celebrations this year. Given that Ramadan and Eid are all about sharing, the last two years really dampened our spirits as we couldn’t socialise. This year, I was able to host a couple of iftars and the excitement had started building up from then on.” Lina, a Lebanese/United States national, ushered in her son Zane’s 13th birthday with family during Eid. This added a special dimension to the celebrations.
‘Time for families, friends to congregate’
For Indian expat Raza Beig, CEO of a famous fashion brand, nothing has been more important than a family Eid celebration. This year, with the addition of a daughter-in-law-to-be in the celebrations, Eid is a very special occasion. Beig told Gulf News: “Eid is a special occasion for families and friends to congregate. I have my sisters, their kids and extended family members all living here in Dubai. During the pandemic, we could not meet, which was very upsetting. This year, we are celebrating Eid with all the fervor and festivities possible and the celebrations have continued for nearly 15 hours! We had at least 50 members of our extended family over for lunch. In the evening, our friends were sending us messages to drop in and since Eid evenings are an open-house at our place, we ended up with more than 70 people for dinner,” said Beig whose son Aly got engaged to his fiancee Klara that made the festival even more special for the entire family.
‘Eid is a time to create special memories’
This Eid Al Fitr was a time for family reunion for UAE resident and Pakistani expatriate Hassan Latif Talib. Talib, managing director at Vital Zone home health care, is spending the long Eid weekend at a luxury resort in Dubai, with nine other family members. This Eid is special for Talib because he got to meet his sister Rubina after two years. “My sister Rubina Talib and her husband Junaid Ahmed, who live in Saudi Arabia were not able to visit us for the last two years, owing to the COVID-19 travel restrictions.
“Similarly, my mother, Shamim Talib, who also was not able to travel here from Pakistan, decided to fly into Dubai, accompanied by my niece Sana, 21. It was a joyous reunion for us. On the other hand, at the luxury resort it was such a relief to see so many people from different countries celebrating Eid. The relaxation of the COVID-19 restrictions made such a difference.”
Egyptian expatriate Mohammad Mobarrez and wife Hiba Abdulla and their four-year-old son Abdulla decided to organize an outing with four other families to Hatta. While driving down to Hatta, Mobarrez spoke to Gulf News: “I cannot tell you how happy we feel to be able to pray together inside the mosque, hug each other and go out with friends who are our extended family here in Dubai. These four families, together with their kids, make us a strong crowd of 25 and we decided to celebrate the festival in the picturesque Hajar mountains,” said Mobarrez .
Mobarrez feels that Eid Al Fitr is far more than just a festival. “Eid for us is a festival to demonstrate how much we care to share our love and food with our family and friends. The last two years, while it was important to follow the COVID protocols, it was also very disappointing to only connect with family and friends on video calls and have a meal by ourselves. Therefore, this year, we have decided to have a boisterous barbecue evening at Hatta. We want our son to build memories of Eid like we did when we were children.”
‘Fulfilled my son’s wish’
Iranian expatriate Mahvin Haghighathjoo was thrilled to have finally fulfilled her son Kian’s wish to celebrate Eid with family at YAS Waterworld. She told GulfNews: ”Since I am a photographer and had plenty of assignments doing Eid family photography, I made sure to finish all my work a week prior to Eid, so that I could take the weekend off with my son. He has been very unhappy since we could not go out for the last two years to any amusement park. We are still at YAS Islands and he is having the time of his life. It is such a refreshing change from the fear and misery of the last two years.”
How non-Muslims joined the festivities
While Muslims have been celebrating Eid with families, non-Muslims are not to be outdone in their community celebrations. Indian expatriate Joginder Singh Salaria and his wife Madhu were thrilled to be able to reinstate a practice of 15 years of celebrating Eid with their neighbors Khalid Mohammad and Sobia Khalid again. Salaria told GulfNews: “For my wife and me, Khalid and Sobia, our Pakistani neighbours, are family. Khalid is like my brother and our children have grown up together. Barring the last two years when we could not celebrate Eid together, we have always been together with them on Eid and they come to our place on Diwali. This year we are so happy, we could go over to their place for an Eid breakfast and have the traditional Eid sweets and savouries. Children got their Eidiyas and played games, while we four happily chatted after the meal.”
Nurturing family bonds
Eid this year was memorable for Emirati businessperson Moath Hazza Al Baser, as he was able to resume the family tradition of a sumptuous lunch at this uncle’s home in Dubai. “For many years, we were following this practice. However, since 2020, we were unable to do this and were very sad. This year, we had 30 family members over for lunch and it was such a precious moment to see all the cousins reconnecting.”