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Residents celebrate ‘unforgettable’ Eid Al Fitr in UAE

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With everyone urged to #StayHome this Eid Al Fitr, the day began with empty streets.

For the first time, it was an Eid without social gatherings and gift exchanges for UAE residents.

With everyone urged to #StayHome this Eid Al Fitr, the day began with empty streets. There was no sight of crowds coming together at mosques. No children prancing around. No hugging and shaking hands.

Instead, worshippers prayed in unison from their homes. Phones were abuzz with heartfelt greetings from loved ones. Screens were on as families’ celebrations went virtual. The vibe was different – but the spirit was definitely alive.

At Dubai Mall – usually a favourite family destination – shoppers trickled through the doors. Though the mall wasn’t as busy as in previous years, the mood was high as everyone enjoyed an outing while sticking to social distancing rules.

Misbah Ahmed, a resident of Downtown Dubai, was seen on Burj Khalifa Street walking towards Dubai Mall at 3pm. He was headed to the mall with his brother and sister-in-law, dressed in traditional outfits.

“We have barely stepped out of our homes in the last 55 days or so. Today seemed like a good opportunity to head out. We have masks, gloves, and a bottle of hand sanitiser to keep us company,” Ahmed said.

Small crowds of people were also spotted at popular malls such as Mall of the Emirates, Dubai Mall, Deira City Centre, and Ibn Battuta Mall in the afternoon.

In Abu Dhabi, most residents prayed and stayed indoors, there was minimal movement on roads and malls had fewer visitors and no community events at all.

Virtual feast

Families kept traditions alive by celebrating with their loved ones through video calls.

Asghar Ali, a Dubai resident and Pakistani national, is a bachelor living in Abu Hail with some roommates.

“Usually, we go to the mosque on Eid morning. After a breakfast of kheema roti (minced meat and bread) and savaiyan (milk-based sweet dish) at a restaurant nearby, we cook lunch at home. I then head over to my cousin’s home in Sharjah,” said Ali.

“This time, I called both my cousins and my family back home on the Zoom app. I do miss the freedom of moving freely, but it also reminded me to be thankful for family and everything I have.”

Khaled Ibrahim, a resident of Abu Dhabi, also caught up with his family and friends through video conferencing.

“I will never forget these moments. It’s fun but weird to exchange greetings via video to people who live in the same city. I like technology but miss personal bonding. I hope we overcome this phase soon,” Ibrahim, a senior executive at a private firm, said.

Mohammed Redha noted that people have showed life can move parallel with pandemic.

“I offered prayers to Allah, wished everyone through Zoom, had a wonderful lunch with family. I miss many things but this Eid is a lesson for all us to adjust to situation and live within means.”

Apart from usual evening walks, there was not much activity on streets even after sunset – a time when people usually step out for Eid gatherings and long drives. The message was loud and clear: residents are determined to beat the pandemic.