Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 3 August 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Eid Al Adha 2020: UAE families plan virtual celebrations and home prayers

With authorities advising physical distancing, followers of Islam have adapted to the new reality, starting with a socially distanced Eid Al Fitr in May

Saud Al Shahhi (R) with his family members at their house in Al Jeer, Ras Al Khaimah. Reem Mohammed / The National
Saud Al Shahhi (R) with his family members at their house in Al Jeer, Ras Al Khaimah. Reem Mohammed / The National

Sending virtual Eid greetings to friends and family and performing prayers at home is the new normal for UAE residents.

With authorities advising physical distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic, followers of Islam have adapted to the new reality, starting with a socially distanced Eid Al Fitr in May.

Usually, worshippers gather in packed mosques on the first day of Eid to offer early morning prayers but, this year, they have been urged to pray at home and avoid social gatherings.

All mosques and public prayers areas will be closed on Friday, the first day of Eid Al Adha.

Hefty fines will be imposed on those found not observing physical distancing over the long weekend.

Saud Al Shahhi, a resident of Ras Al Khaimah, said the festivities this time will be muted like Eid Al Fitr.

Saud Al Shehhi (L) and his brother Abdullah Al Shehhi at home. Reem Mohammed / The National 
Saud Al Shehhi (L) and his brother Abdullah Al Shehhi at home. Reem Mohammed / The National 

"Eid Al Adha celebrations will be very similar to Eid Al Fitr with no large gatherings, only with the people who are living with us in the same house," said the 33-year-old Emirati.

Mr Al Shahhi, who has three children, lives with his parents, two brothers and two sisters in Al Jeer area of the emirate.

His uncle, aunt and grandmother live in the neighbouring houses.

"We are already one big family living together in the same house, and like last Eid, we will all pray at home with my father leading the prayers," he said.

"After Eid prayers, we will call up the rest of the family and exchange greetings over a voice or video call and maybe go to the beach in the evening."

Mr Al Shahhi said he did not realise how unique and special the Eid rituals were until this year.

"In the morning we would go to Musalla Al Eid at Sheikh Khalifa mosque next to our house. [There we would] meet our neighbours and other family members. We [would] greet each other and give eidiyah to the small kids," he said.

"But now we cannot [do all these things] and that makes us miss these traditions and appreciate it more."

Most workers in the UAE will enjoy a four-day holiday, starting on Thursday, July 30 until Sunday, August 2.

Some residents have planned staycations over the weekend.

"I wasn't sure about the decision to spend the Eid break at a hotel but my husband encouraged us to do so,” said Suzan Abdulsalam, a 40-year-old Lebanese living in Dubai.

“I was against the idea last Eid but now with the increase in the number of recovered patients and the decrease in the confirmed cases, the idea somehow became acceptable but we’ll definitely take safety precautions,” she said.

Ms Abdulsalam will send virtual wishes to her family and friends.

“A Zoom call will be arranged on the first day of Eid with my family. We will put on our Eid outfits and prepare the sweets and Arabic coffee as this will make us feel closer while celebrating Eid,” she said.

With muted celebrations this year, residents hope for a normal Eid in 2021.

“I feel sad for my children as they will not be able to celebrate Eid like we used to do when we were young,” said Ali Al Turk, a 36-year-old Jordanian engineer living in Sharjah.

“We miss all the Eid traditions and we miss our family back home. We hope things change next year.”

His son, 7, and daughter, 5, hoped to do something different during Eid Al Adha but the family will stay home because his wife sufferers from asthma.

“I will try to entertain them indoors and my wife will let them help in preparing Eid sweets,” said Mr Al Turk.

“And we will video call our family in Amman and greet them on this special occasion.”

Updated: July 31, 2020 09:42 AM

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