DUBAI // Thousands took to the malls and tourist attractions yesterday to take advantage of the Al Isra Wal Miraj holiday.
All over the city, parks and beaches were inundated with visitors enjoying the first day of a three-day weekend.
Mall of the Emirates, Fat Burger and Al Marhabani restaurants on Jumeirah Road, the Jumeirah Open Beach, and Wild Wadi water park were just a few of the locations that were crowded.
At Wild Wadi, Samer Abdelfatah, a 45-year-old Egyptian bank cashier, and his two children, Mona, 11, and Mahmood, 13, waited in line to purchase tickets.
"My wife and children are visiting for the week from Alexandria, so I brought my kids here," he said. "This extra day off means I get to spend an extra day with my wife and kids. Instead of just spending Friday and Saturday with them, I get to spend Thursday with them as well. I'm happy that for three days out of the seven they will be here, I will be with them."
Mr Abdelfatah's wife decided to give the water park a miss and instead head to the mall.
And Mall of the Emirates was packed. At Al Ansari Exchange, dozens queued up to exchange money, pay bills or send money home. A cashier said that because it was a bank holiday, many people were paid before the 30th.
"We normally see this kind of rush the Friday after payday," the cashier said. "But today is a holiday, so I think people decided to come in today."
At Fat Burger on Jumeirah Road, the car park was full as well as the tables inside the restaurant. At one table, Anush and Pria Malik, an Indian couple, enjoyed a meal together, something they rarely get to do.
"I usually work the weekend shift at the hospital and have Sunday and Monday off, while my husband works during the week," Mrs Malik said. "For us to have a day off together is quite rare. We came here for a meal, and then we are going to have a his and hers spa treatment."
In Abu Dhabi, meanwhile, the Summer in Abu Dhabi events began at Adnec yesterday, and featured a special guest appearance by the Smurfs.