Discover the traditions of Eid and find ideas on how to celebrate the occasion this year...
16 June 2013| Last updated on 26 May 2019
Whether you're new in Dubai or an experienced expat, Eid is a great time to enjoy with family and friends - with both occasions being equally as fun for all to enjoy and take note of the blessings in their lives. Both Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha are holidays that both public and private sector workers in Dubai can enjoy.
So to help you fully grasp the atmosphere of Eid, here's some information you should know about the holidays...
The Traditions of Eid
Eid is a time where families spend time together and exchange gifts and worship. There are two celebrations of Eid each year namely Eid Ul Fitr, celebrated at the sighting of the new moon that marks the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan and Eid Ul Adha that is celebrated during the 12th month of the Hijra calendar and coincides with the Hajj or Pilgrimage to Makkah.
Eid Ul Fitr is the celebration to commence the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan and lasts three days. There is definitely a change of atmosphere during the time of Eid in the UAE; it is a time for celebration and reflection. The common Eid greeting is Eid Mubarak; this is a phrase that you will hear often during Eid. It is considered polite to greet all by saying Eid Mubarak.
In a Muslim household it is normal for the family to go shopping for new clothes as you are expected to be dressed in your best garments at this holy time, usually three sets of clothing are purchased for the three days of Eid. It is important to wear perfume and show cleanliness with regards to both your personal hygiene and home. It is also customary for the women to decorate their hands with Henna during this time and you will see some very beautiful and elaborate designs adorning the hands of many women.
Women often clean their houses so that they are spotless and spend many hours cooking in anticipation of the family meal. The houses are also decorated with pretty lights and the words “Eid Mubarak” are hung up around the home. Cleanliness is of the utmost importance and you will rarely see a dirty car during this time.
Typically the first day of Eid is commenced with a pre-dawn prayer followed by a breakfast of sweets and dates. People then wash and dress in their best clothes in order to attend prayer at the Mosque. Muslims are expected to give Zakat al Fitr as alms for the Ramadan month before they enter the Mosque. This is in addition to the Zakat that they are expected to give as a charitable donation throughout the year. It is very similar to giving tithe in the Christian faith.
Once all the religious obligations have been fulfilled at the Mosque, the families will ask for forgiveness from any that they have wronged, or they will give forgiveness to any wrongdoers. It is a time for starting anew. The families will then gather for a big lunch, dressed in their best. This is traditionally very important as they are showing unity as a family. At this time gifts will be exchanged, most commonly gifts of money are given to the children of the family. It is also traditional for children to go to the neighbors, knock on the doors and say Eid Mubarak and receive some money as a gift from the neighbors.
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If you yourself are not fasting but have a colleague that is, it is a nice idea to buy them some chocolate or dates for their family. Remember to say Eid Mubarak when you give it to them. Small details like this will be much appreciated. If you have friends with small children, give them a gift of money, it can be a token sum and does not have to put you in a huge amount of debt. These gifts excite the children about their religion and it teaches them care and attention to detail.
Have a mini staycation or go on a road trip
For those of you that are on holiday during the Eid Ul Fitr celebrations there are many things that you can do during the days of Eid. “Staycations” have become very popular in the UAE and many hotels have great summer deals for you to get out of the house, but not necessarily the country.
Drive up to Fujairah or Ras al Khaimah and stay in one of their luxury resorts. You can get to each Emirate in around an hour and it feels like you are outside the UAE when you are being pampered in five star luxury.
If a vacation is what you are searching for, then Oman is just next door and Muscat is a truly relaxing city with beautiful sights of mountains and beaches. You can take an adventurous three day break and do some snorkeling, diving and rock climbing. If the winds are powerful enough, you could even try your hand at kite surfing.
Omani hotels also have some fabulous summer and Eid offers and you can drive or fly there. Even though the drive is a long one, about 4 hours, you could make a day of it and stop off somewhere fantastic for a leisurely lunch or just pack some sandwiches and play car games like eye-spy and number plate cricket.
The roads will be quiet at this time of year so pack a picnic basket and take a road trip. Drive down to Al Ain and go into the mountains. If the weather permits you could have a picnic in one of the parks or stop off at one of the resorts or hotels and spend a day at the pool. Al Ain is close enough to Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Oman that you could make a day trip out of it and be tucked up in your own beds the very same evening.
SEE ALSO: Top trips from Dubai under 5 hours away
Take the kids to the zoo
If you have little ones and are looking for ways to entertain them take them to the zoo in Al Ain. There is an array of exotic animals to educate the children about and the zoo has great facilities for a light lunch. Feeding at the zoo goes on throughout the day and it is quite a sight to see some animals feed. Our favourites are the chimpanzees, white lions and the very elegant flamingos.
There is also a big waterpark that you can take your family to in Al Ain that offers adventurous activities such as white water rafting, rock climbing and canoeing. It’s a great place to cool off from the summer heat, just remember to wear plenty of sun block to keep those harmful rays at bay.
Go camping in the desert
While the days are still scorching the desert is really beautiful at night. It cools down enough for you and your friends to enjoy a nice evening barbecue. Bring the kids and make camp in the desert, tell them old traditional stories from your home countries and let them be culturally enlightened. You can lay a blanket out and watch the night skies, try to catch a glimpse of the Perseid Meteor Shower, even though it’s at its most prominent between the 11th and 14th of August, it occurs during the entire month.
Eid is a great time to make resolutions, why not sign up for some Arabic language courses. Knowing Arabic is a great business tool, and having the ability to communicate with the Arabic people residing in the UAE will be a welcomed gesture.
Take a short trip to another country
Eid is a time of family and reflection, taking a trip to another country within the Gulf will open your eyes more to their traditions and cultures. Most Gulf nations are a mere hour’s flight from the UAE and many airlines have Eid offers on including flights and stays. Countries that you could visit include Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain.
You could also opt to explore one of the countries that are less than four hours flight from the UAE. Explore the cultural magnificence of Nepal and hike up the base of Mount Everest, or get involved with the Nepalese culture and see the hundred year old temples. Visit India for some traditional, spicy food, beautiful saris and fruitful markets.
Go to Sri Lanka and see the elephant sanctuaries or laze on their beautiful beaches. Drink cocktails under the starry skies in the Seychelles.
The possibilities for a mini break are endless and will not cost you an arm and a leg this summer as most airlines in the region are having their summer sales at the moment.
Have an Eid Lunch with your nearest and dearest
You can do all of the above or you can keep it simple and gather family and close friends for a traditional Eid lunch or dinner.