ABU DHABI // Hussein Melhelm was glad for a quiet night.
While the Jordanian-born Abu Dhabi resident sipped tea with his friend on a park bench at Mushrif Children's Garden last night, his wife lounged on a blanket nearby and his kids played games with friends.
"Mostly Eid is not as much for the adults as it is for the kids," said Mr Melhelm, 38. "It's good to have this long holiday, so our kids can leave the pressure of studying and school. It's nice to do something different."
Mr Melhelm and his family were just some of the thousands who flocked to the capital's parks Friday night, as the relaxation of the Eid al Adha holiday wound down and people prepared for a return to work.
Traffic around Dubai and the capital returned as people travelled back from weekend breaks around the Emirates.
At the Ghweifat crossing with Saudi Arabia, immigration officials processed more than 12,795 pilgrims returning from Haj yesterday, while a further 3,000 pilgrims came back by air through Abu Dhabi International Airport, the official news agency WAM reported.
But for many people already in the city, parks were the place to be.
Tamara al Hassan and her friend Rihab Elfil, both 29, spent a quiet Friday night at Al Khubeirah Garden enjoying dinner with a large group. As smoke from dozens of grills and shisha pipes rose into the quickly darkening sky, fathers pushed their daughters on swing sets and women gabbed in small pockets. Adults gathered for barbecues and conversation, while kids played a casual game of football or volleyball in the grass.
"This is a time for fun and enjoyment, so we are out here today," said Jareer Alzoubi, a 35-year-old Jordanian. "But it's almost time to get back to work. Sometimes you feel bored, so it is good to feel like it is time to go back."
At Mushrif Children's Garden, vendors sold kites and light-up toys to the hundreds of residents whiling away the hours under the shade of palm trees.
Children on bicycles whizzed past couples playing badminton, while a rousing game of football elicited cheers from a crowd gathered at one end of the park.
Mohamed Aylouche, 39, a Lebanese-American father of four who has lived in Abu Dhabi for four years, met up with two other families at the park and spent the day playing volleyball and Frisbee with his three older children.
"We've been looking forward to Eid for so long, and now it's almost over. But I can't complain because it's been a great five days," he said, before heading off to play badminton with his wife, Srene.
The week's mild weather made the time off even more enjoyable.
"After last weekend, at Yas Island with the Formula One and the concerts, it's been nice to relax and just be in the sun," said Ms al Hassan, who grew up in Abu Dhabi.
Government offices will reopen tomorrow.