DUBAI // Residents and visitors packed shopping malls and spent time with friends and family yesterday as the extended Eid Al Fitr weekend came to a close.
"It is still too hot to travel outdoors and Dubai's malls are the best," said Benita Schmidt, a German national visiting from Oman for a week.
"The trouble is that it is so very crowded; it feels like the whole world has also decided to come here. It is so busy indoors whatever the time of day."
Another shopper, Anwar Ibrahim from Saudi Arabia, had planned a 10-day UAE holiday.
"My family likes to shop a lot so we come here for long breaks," he said. "We like to buy everything but mostly we buy clothes and electronics. We get a wide selection and can choose what we really like best. I love the choice. Here I can buy what I really want and not just what is available."
Laptops, cameras and headphones were among the fastest selling products, said Salman Naqvi, a sales manager at an electronics shop in the Mall of the Emirates.
"People are still buying Eid gifts even if there are no deals or cheaper prices any more," he said. "We are busy from the time we open up until after midnight. Customers keep on coming to pick up these easy, last-minute gifts. It has been very good business after a quiet Ramadan. This is the kind of business that shop owners love - when people actually come to buy and not just look and ask questions."
As many enjoyed the last few hours of the long weekend, some private-sector workers said they would extend the Eid break throughout the week.
"This way, we only had to ask for three days of our annual leave off," said MA, from Dubai. "But prices shot up during the holiday, making it difficult to travel, and we didn't know of the long holiday until it was a little too late for some to ask for the time off, so some were just happy with a long weekend."
An Emirati employee at a semi-government company in Sharjah was back at work yesterday.
"Half of the office was empty," she said. "A lot of people took the rest of the week off. Some people I know plan to take a sick day on Thursday so they only have to work one day this week."
Some employees in the public sector, who had three days off for Eid and should be back to work today, made unsuccessful requests for an extended holiday.
Traffic police in Abu Dhabi and Dubai warned commuters to be vigilant on the roads today, as traffic flow is expected to return to normal after Ramadan and Eid kept roads mostly quiet during the day.
"There were remarkably fewer traffic accidents during the Eid holidays than what we were expecting," said Col Hamad Nasser Al Baloushi, director of traffic for the Abu Dhabi external regions.
"Through various media, we're reaching out to motorists and urging them to be vigilant as they get back to work from Eid … so that nothing ruins the joy they had during the holiday."
Lt Imran Abdullah from Dubai Traffic Police urged drivers to respect speed limits and to leave adequate distance between vehicles.