DUBAI// Tourist attractions across the UAE were packed with visitors over the Eid Al Adha weekend.
The expected high numbers were boosted by holidaymakers from the GCC, in particular Saudi Arabia, which gave public sector workers a 16-day break.
A total of 32,900 people crossed the Saudi border to the Emirates between October 24 and 28.
Organisers of Eid events in Dubai said they were delighted by the response from the public.
"This was a slightly unusual Eid because we had two weeks of events arranged, with the centrepiece being the four-day Eid weekend itself," said Laila Mohammed Suhail, chief executive for Dubai Events and Promotions. "We had campaigns in Saudi Arabia and Oman and they paid off."
The 24-hour shopping initiative proved a big hit, with malls packed into the early hours. "Shops, cinemas and restaurants were busy throughout," said Ms Suhail.
An estimated 18,000 people attended a concert by Enrique Iglesias at the World Trade Centre arena on Friday. More than 40 per cent of tickets were bought outside of the UAE.
Zabeel Park attracted 33,000 people on Saturday for the Dubai Water Bash water balloon fight, while in Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque welcomed 50,000 visitors.
"Although the mosque usually receives a large number of international guests, the weekends and holidays also demonstrate a strong increase in domestic tourism," said Yousif Alobaidli, director of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre. "The holiday gave residents the opportunity to explore attractions in their home country and entertain visiting friends and relatives by taking them on a tour of the mosque."
The Arabian Wildlife Park on Sir Bani Yas Island recorded a 50 per cent increase in visitors.
"By far the most popular attraction was the Nature and Wildlife drive in open safari vehicles," said a spokeswoman for Desert Island Resorts and Spa, which runs the attraction. "This is an excellent family activity where parents and kids can drive up close to the animals."
Desert safari operators also saw a huge increase in demand.
"Before the Eid weekend we saw a 30 per cent increase in the number of people wanting to go on tours and that will continue through this week," said a spokeswoman for Net Tours and Travel. She said 240 people a day were signing up for tours, compared with 90 on a normal day.