x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Eid holidays travel boom takes off in the UAE

As the nine-day Eid holiday began on Friday for government employees, tens of thousands of people flew out the country for a short holiday, while many more arrived in the UAE to take their vacations here.

Passengers wait to board a bus bound for Dubai at the main bus terminal in Abu Dhabi on the last weekend of Ramadan. Christopher Pike / The National
Passengers wait to board a bus bound for Dubai at the main bus terminal in Abu Dhabi on the last weekend of Ramadan. Christopher Pike / The National

ABU DHABI // Tens of thousands of people began to leave the UAE for more clement climes as the nine-day Eid Al Fitr holiday began for government employees yesterday.

Airports were expecting a busy few days, with passengers either jetting off to foreign destinations or arriving from overseas to spend their Eid vacations here.

Airlines had a flurry of extra bookings after the five-day holiday was announced last week. But it wasn’t just overseas travel companies there were doing a roaring trade.

Hotels and tour package operators in the UAE said demand shot up from those opting for staycations and visitors from other countries.

Bus stations were also crowded on Friday morning as people headed off to other emirates for their breaks.

Ayman Ashor, general manager at Tilal Liwa Hotel in the Western Region, said Eid would be a busier than usual time for staff.

“Our Eid packages are selling well. So far our occupancy is 79 per cent but we expect to have a full house before Eid ends,” Mr Ashor said.

Daniel Mathew, general manager of Millennium Plaza Hotel Dubai, said: “The hotel is expected to be at full occupancy during the days of Eid.”

A spokesman for Desert Safari Dubai said there had been an increase in bookings for safaris after the Eid holidays were announced.

“We are expecting to be busy from the start of this weekend and through the Eid holiday,” he said. “I would say we have an almost even split between UAE residents and tourists wanting to go on safaris.

“The holidays are quite long so a lot of people are choosing to spend a night or two in the desert. We are getting families as well as groups of friends choosing to spend at least part of their Eid holiday on a safari.”

Airlines said the holiday was one of the peak periods of the year.

“The airline is expecting high volumes of traffic through Abu Dhabi during Eid Al Fitr holidays with guests heading for many destinations including London, Istanbul, Paris and Munich, as well as Medina and Jeddah closer to home,” a spokesman for Etihad Airways said.

A flydubai spokesman agreed: “Eid Al Fitr is a popular time of year for our passengers. We are witnessing an increase in passenger numbers both inbound and outbound across our network.”

Those who had been given the whole week off work were looking forward to the extended break.

Helen Whitworth, 33, an Australian accountant who lives in Dubai, was preparing for a camping trip.

“We’ve been allowed the week off as of Sunday so we’re just getting away locally this Eid,” she said. “Dubai is always so busy during Eid so it’s nice to go and have some peace and quiet.”

Rizwan Fancy, a welfare worker at the Pakistan Association in Dubai, and his family would fly to Pakistan tomorrow to celebrate Eid there.

“Celebrating Eid back home is always a different experience as we meet and greet our all relatives and friends,” said Mr Fancy, who has lived in the UAE for 25 years.

“This is time when our children have their summer vacations, so we mostly travel home.”

But private sector workers had to curtail their travel plans after being only given two days off work.

Osama Saeed, an Emirati project control engineer, works for a semi-government company.

“I am not that happy as I got only two days off,” he said.

He said he would take a holiday to India and Europe after Eid, but had to use his annual leave for the trip.

Krishna Kumar, an Indian engineer, was also unexcited about his two-day break. “I sent my family a week back and I’ll be travelling to India on Tuesday after Eid,” he said.