x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Ask Ali: On a second Eid holiday

Ali Al Saloom on Eid Al Adha and why Arabs don't like discussing money.

Dear Ali: Is it true that there is another major public holiday coming up this year? I keep hearing people planning for another holiday that they don't have to take out of their personal leave. What is it? NZ, Sharjah

Dear NZ: Yes, this would be Eid Al Adha, which is known as "big Eid". True, we just finished with Eid Al Fitr, or "little Eid", which celebrates the end of Ramadan. Eid Al Adha, near the end of October, is linked to the time when Muslims make the annual pilgrimage of Hajj to Mecca, and it occurs on the 10th day of the Arabic month known as Dhul Hijja. This Eid lasts for three days plus one day prior to that for the Hajj day known as Waqfat Arafa.

This Eid commemorates the time when the Prophet Ibrahim (may peace be upon him) was about to sacrifice his son Ismail in devotion to God. Instead, God allowed him to sacrifice a sheep. This month is the busiest month in Saudi Arabia after Ramadan as Muslims all around the globe travel to perform this holy pilgrimage.

Muslims during Eid Al Adha buy livestock animals, have them slaughtered and then given to the less fortunate so they can cook and eat them. This is why you may notice goats and sheep tied next to the villa or building in the neighbourhood where you live. Technically, all livestock are meant by law to be slaughtered at the abattoir for hygiene reasons, and to make sure it's done the proper way. If you have children who may see these animals, you might not want to disclose that the livestock will be slaughtered soon, as they might become traumatised by the thought of it.

For some people, Eid is a great opportunity to travel and get away from everyday life without having to use up their leave days at work. So this is probably what your friends have been referring to.


Dear Ali: I once had a problem with my car and my Emirati friend kindly offered me her car to use because she was going out of town for a week. I may have been flashed a few times for speeding by the radar, but now she won't tell me how much I owe her and keeps changing the subject every time I bring it up. I feel it's only fair that I pay for the fines I incurred. Do you think she is angry with me? SJ, Dubai

Dear SJ: There is one thing that we Arabs are very sensitive about, and that is discussing money matters. Your friend is probably not angry with you, but the reason she is refusing to tell you how much in fines you accumulated is because she is embarrassed to take money from you or to have you pay - even though it makes sense for you to make up for the damage caused.

That's how we Arabs are sometimes. When we offer to help someone as an act of genuine generosity, we do it all the way and handle any consequences that may arise. So if your friend insists on not mentioning the amount of speeding fines you incurred, chances are she is indirectly telling you: "Don't worry, I've got it covered".

If you still feel horrible about it (though you shouldn't), try inviting her out for a nice meal or buy her a gift as a token of your appreciation. In my case I would insist on paying because I won't accept another person's paying for my mess even if he or she asked me to let it go. I would ask the person to take the money and perhaps donate it to a charity.

I guess now you will not borrow her car again or will adhere to the speed limit.


Language lesson

Arabic: Adfa'a

English: Pay

If you're in a supermarket and you're looking for the cashier section to pay, ask someone: "Wain Adfa'a?" That basically means: "Where do I pay?"