DUBAI // Four-year-old Mahrukh Naqvi got up an hour before sunrise yesterday and proceeded to wake her entire family so they could begin Eid celebrations.
"She was so excited about the gifts she knew she would be getting," said her father, Abbas Naqvi, a Pakistani expatriate who has lived in Dubai for 11 years. "She couldn't sleep, she woke up at 5.30am."
Mahrukh then waited until her grandparents, parents and uncle returned from prayers before she tore open her brightly wrapped gifts.
Children are often given "Eidi" or gifts in cash by family during Eid in his home of Karachi, said Mr Naqvi.
"It's part of the tradition to give children money, but here the trend has been to give toys rather than cash," he said.
Mahrukh's Eidi gifts included a doctor's kit, a toy and a bubble gun, which she began playing with even before the family had a breakfast of parathas (flat bread), lamb kebabs and a milk sweet with dry fruits.
"It's a day the family spends together," Mr Naqvi said. All the relatives headed to Dubai's Mushrif Park to join friends for a barbecue.
Hala al Rahma, an Emirati housewife, also spent the day with family. Though her husband had travelled to Saudi Arabia for the Haj, she took her young children to the Al Garhoud home where her father, mother and grandmother live.
Two dozen relatives gathered for lunch and feasted on meat that an uncle had brought from the slaughterhouse that morning. Another 50 relatives stopped by throughout the afternoon to wish the grandmother Eid Mubarak. They brought gifts for the children from Dh5 up to Dh50.
"The first day of Eid is always for families - gathering and having lunch with the oldest person of the family," said Ms al Rahma.
Many women spent a large part of yesterday cooking for lunches and preparing for evening beach barbecues. Farida Mukadam was busy in Deira cooking up the meat her husband bought from an abattoir.
Mrs Mukadam, who has lived in Dubai for 18 years, had divided the dinner menu with friends that her family planned to meet at Jumeirah Beach. She was preparing mutton biryani and samosas, a triangular shaped pastry, for the Eid meal.
"We do a kurbani [sacrifice] of two goats," said Mrs Mukadam, who helps her husband with his imitation-gem jewellery business.
"My husband and son distribute the meat to relatives and friends. This is part of the giving in Eid, where we share with others."
Mrs Mukadam's family meet in parks across the region to celebrate Eid. "Last year, we went to Jebel Hafeet in Al Ain," she said. "We try and go to different places to celebrate Eid together."
Zahra Hussain, 63, a housewife from India's Rajasthan state, took the milk pudding sheer khorma along with meat curries to share with 14 friends who meet twice a year at a farmhouse near Ajman.
"This is the Eid of sacrifice, that's what it symbolises," Mrs Hussain said. "I ask my family in India to sacrifice two goats and to distribute the meat to the poor. Mostly, people sacrifice one or two goats to distribute to family and the needy."
Non-Muslims also joined in the Eid traditions and festivities.
Amjad Hanna, a Jordanian Christian living in Dubai with his wife and son, visited their Muslim friends to wish them Happy Eid. They chatted with the adults and gave the children small gifts.
"As an Arabic community, we really share the Eid holiday, though of course not the religious part," he said. "We just try to wish everyone Happy Eid."