x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

UAE residents prepare to scare their neighbours during Halloween

The magic of Halloween appears to have enchanted people of all cultures in Abu Dhabi.

Little horrors: Zaid, Yasmin and Adam show off the Halloween costumes they hope will scare neighbours into parting with plenty of treats when the trio go out trick or treating. Jaime Puebla / The National
Little horrors: Zaid, Yasmin and Adam show off the Halloween costumes they hope will scare neighbours into parting with plenty of treats when the trio go out trick or treating. Jaime Puebla / The National

ABU DHABI // In the UAE capital, Halloween, a mostly frightful international celebration, also seems to be one of the most unifying, according to residents.

People of all ages and nationalities will shed their identities on Thursday to transform themselves into zombies, witches, fairies and superheroes – anything but themselves if just for one day.

The magic of Halloween appears to have enchanted people of all cultures, said one expatriate.

“It gives you a chance to be somebody you’re not,” said Emma Cartwright, manager of one of the UAE’s largest costume retailers, Posters Abu Dhabi. “And it’s fun. Everybody likes to dress up.”

Ms Cartwright, a British national born in Abu Dhabi, said the demand for all things Halloween has risen tremendously since her father Richard opened his shop about 20 years ago.

“It’s definitely grown,” Ms Cartwright said of the Halloween culture in the UAE. “Every single year, we see year-over-year growth for Halloween.”

In the weeks leading up to All Hallow’s Eve, Ms Cartwright’s four stores boasted a stock of 6,825 costumes, from storybook princesses to ghoulish zombies.

With its wide variety of costumes, it was at Posters that shopper Myrrene Lamoglia sought to find her perfect costume for a themed party she was hosting.

“We just thought, ‘Hey, it’s Halloween, let’s dress up’,” the 33-year-old Filipina said. “We’re using it as an opportunity to get together with friends.”

Ms Lamoglia’s party will include a pumpkin-themed potluck dinner – she plans to bake pumpkin brownies – and “Halloween jeopardy.”

“I’m not sure how that will work,” she laughed.

While baked goods are sweet, everyone knows the real star attractions of Halloween are the chocolates and sweets distributed to little ghosts and goblins who travel door to door threatening tricks if they don’t get their treats.

Although trick-or-treating is not widely practised here, its popularity is picking up at many villas. Al Raha Gardens is a well-known trick-or-treating hotspot, but many parents outside the compound are taking it upon themselves to adopt the whimsical tradition in their own neighbourhoods.

Lima Zeidan, a mother of three young children, initiated the ritual last year by sending out pumpkin flyers to her neighbours near the American Community School asking them to take part.

“It’s just a fun tradition,” said Mrs Zeidan, a Jordanian who grew up in the US. “It’s nice for the kids to feel that, to be a part of that.”

This year her children, who are students at ACS, will get their Halloween fix at their school as part of the annual Fall Festival being held there on Thursday.

It encourages everyone, including teachers, to dress up, offers a haunted house for the middle school students, a costume contest for the high-school aged children and sweets for everyone.

Allegra Cox, a 16-year-old American pupil, is vying to win in the “scariest costume” category.

Ms Cox designed her own costume and mask and will dress up as a zombie from the video game “The Last of Us”.

“I am looking forward to it,” the expatriate, from California, said of Halloween. “It’s something that unites the community because everyone has an opportunity to dress up and look ridiculous all together. You get to be a little kid again basically.”

rpennington@thenational.ae