Dubai: With COVID-19 precautionary measures in place, Muslims celebrating the Eid Al Fitr holiday in UAE said they will adapt and improvise to the situation for a safe and enjoyable festival.
On the list are Zoom greetings and meeting in public places in limited and spaced-out numbers. Recently, UAE authorities announced that Eid parties and visits are not allowed this year (as last year) because of the pandemic. Residents have been told to restrict gathering to members of the same household only. Instead of giving Eidiya (money gifts to children) in cash, people have been urged to use digital options. When stepping out, masks and social distancing have to be maintained, together with any capacity limits at venues.
Normally, Eid Al Fitr (which comes at the end of Ramadan) is marked with social visits and feasting with friends. However, with the pandemic still on, residents said they plan on making the most of the circumstances.
Keeping a low profile
Indian expat Meghna Khan, 41, a career coach in Dubai, and her family will maintain a low profile for Eid this year. Her husband Mohammad Umar Khan, 42, is feeling down. His family back in India have caught COVID. “My husband’s sister is down with the virus, along with his uncle. We are not in a mood to celebrate in a big way. We will just stay at home. Of course on the day of Eid we will do a zoom call with friends and relatives. Just like we did last year.”
Good old days
She recalled how Eid used to be such a mega festival for the family. “It was always a family reunion. Our close and extended family members would get together and we used to have so much fun. Eidiya was given to all children in the family. The elders would bless the children. It is so sad we are not able to do all that now.”
Meghna said the current COVID-19 situation in India has put a halt on many people’s plans. “We would have considered flying home if the double mutant virus had not created such a tsunami in India. I have been longing to see my parents and my parents-in-law. I don’t know when that will happen. My daughter Alishbah is also missing her grandparents and uncles and aunts.”
Ajman-based Pakistani expat Zubair Haider, 42, said he will use the Eid break to spend maximum time with family — his wife and three children — here. “We don’t have extended family here so we won’t be going for Eid visits or having Eid guests. With the precautionary measures, we cannot visit friends’ homes either. However, we plan to go out — to malls, parks — as a family and also spend time together at home,” said Haider, who works as a marketing and export professional in Dubai.
Staycation in Abu Dhabi
Yoshita Ahmad, an artist based in Dubai, is heading to Abu Dhabi for a staycation. “I have not seen Abu Dhabi in a while. So we plan to visit the mosque and malls. We also might visit Ferrari World. My mother and sister live in Abu Dhabi. They will come to the malls as well, so it will be a good way to meet them. The plan is to catch up with my family,” she said.
British expat Carla Pozza, Head of Primary at Victoria English School in Sharjah, will be celebrating Eid with family — albeit via Zoom. “My son Adnan and his wife Olivia, my daughter Suzanne and her husband Ezzeldin and my granddaughter Lara, who is just two years old, are in Dubai to make my Eid special. But owing to restrictions placed for Eid, the family will see each other only in public places. Rest of the time they will be in touch via Zoom,” she said.
“My family is quite unique because my children are British, Italian and Palestinian and I am Anglo-Italian; my daughter-in law, Olivia, is American, and my son-in-law, Ezzeldin, is Egyptian.”
How are they celebrating Eid?
Pozza said: “With joy and being thankful for good health. We always remember our family near and far, friends who are like family, respected colleagues but also the loved ones who cannot join us this Eid because they are no longer with us and we have fond memories of them. Eid is a celebration of family togetherness and kindness towards all. I hope to get back to old times when we gathered for a good feast and family time.”
Going out, checking in
Bahaa Al Hossainy, 36, an Egyptian who lives in Dubai with his wife and two children, said he is planning to check into a resort in Ras Al Khaimah. “We have not taken a break in a while and this will be a good reason to get out and have some prime family time,” added Al Hossainy.