x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Dressing to impress at Eid

Make sure you notice everyone's new clothes on the first day of Eid; after that, they will just be part of the wardrobe.

I can see my tailor's shop from my office window, so I'm constantly reminded that I need to go and see him. When I met him yesterday, he told me how lucky I was, since the next available booking wouldn't have been until after the holiday. I would have had to wear my old kanduras, and that is something you try to avoid on the first day of Eid. Emiratis are obsessed with new clothes at this time of year. The other day, I was talking with a friend who wanted to buy some new sandals. "But I was just with you a couple of weeks ago when you bought a pair at the mall," I said. "Yes," he replied, "but I need them to be fresh-out-of-the-box new."

The tradition begins when we are children, but the habit seems to stick. Last year, for example, I had three kanduras made, one for each day of Eid: one white and two brown. The cost with a couple of ghutras thrown in is about Dh1,000 for men and usually double that for women. Not all Muslims are such spendthrifts. Personally, I'm OK with wearing my old clothes. I think of my ancestors, who had limited resources; my grandmother used to tell me about the days when she had just two dresses and only one abaya. So, expat friends, make sure you notice everyone's new clothes on the first day of Eid. After that, they will just be part of the wardrobe.

You might get a knock on the door this Eid from neighbourhood children looking for you to show them the money. Candies will not do for these kids, so make sure to have Dh100 worth of coins on hand. A couple of coins is fine for smaller children, but give Dh5 or Dh10 to kids between 10 and 15 years old. But be careful, these tricksters will stop at nothing to get their Eidiyah. Some might ask you, "Is that it?" or play upon the stereotype that all Arabs look the same to expats and show up more than once. Pay close attention to those little faces. Expats are not required to take part in this beloved tradition, which starts at home with parents and older siblings.