Abu Dhabi: As Eid draws closer, residents in the UAE are looking at ways to spend the extended break away from the summer heat. The announcement of the nine-day public holiday has therefore given them a chance to travel to their homelands or even visit other countries.
Airlines have reported an increase in bookings over the Eid holiday, and travel agencies say they have seen a significant rise in the number of enquiries about packages. In line with the Islamic calendar, Eid this year falls in early September, when the summer heat is still palpable in the UAE.
Khalid Bil Jaflah, vice- president of commercial sales at Emirates airline, said the Eid break usually sees an increase in outbound travel.
"The Eid period has always been a busy time for Emirates, with a large volume of passengers travelling overseas to spend time with family and friends. Outbound bookings from Dubai over this period are extremely strong," he said.
Change of scenery
According to the airline executive, the most popular destinations over the period were various cities in the Middle East, as well as Istanbul, Bangkok, London, India and Kuala Lumpur.
Travel packages have also proven popular, and families have seized the long break to explore new places.
Abdul Rauf, senior sales executive at Abu Dhabi-based Bin Ham Travel, said the agency had been seeing an increase in queries about travel packages as soon as the nine-day public holiday was announced.
"Turkey has been a very popular choice, possibly because the tickets and hotels are rather affordable. In addition, quite a few people have opted to spend their holidays in Malaysia and Thailand," Rauf said.
In turn, residents say that travelling during the long break is a perfect way to get a change of scenery.
"I wanted to see greenery and go somewhere away for a while, so I decided to visit my old school friends during the Eid break. It's always good to get a change from your daily routine," said Gregory Gottlieb, 51, a British project manager.
Detailing his travel plans, Gottlieb said he would use the opportunity to practise his favourite sports in Australia. "I will go skydiving at the Southern Sky Diving near Margaret River, and I cannot wait," he added.
Nour Ajouz, 26, said he was travelling back to Lebanon with his wife.
"I have been in the UAE for three years, and every Eid, I take a few extra days off and use the mini break to enjoy the festivities with my friends and family back home," Ajouz said.
"Eid is simply more special when you have more relatives and friends to spend it with," he added.
I. Abdullah is visiting his extended family in Egypt with his three-month-old baby for the first time this Eid. "My parents and siblings are eager to meet my daughter Nour, as she is the first grandchild in our family. My wife and I too cannot wait to share our happiness, and enjoy Eid in all its entirety," Abdullah said.
Greetings from rulers
President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has sent congratulatory cables to the kings, princes and presidents of Arab and Islamic countries on the occasion of Eid Al Fitr.
The President wished them good health and happiness and for their people peace and prosperity.
President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Sunday exchanged Eid Al Fitr greetings during a telephone call with Sultan Qaboos Bin Saeed of Oman, King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa of Bahrain, and Kuwaiti Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, have also sent similar cables to the leaders of Arab and Islamic countries.
General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan will perform Eid prayers in Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. He will be joined in prayer by shaikhs, senior officials, dignitaries, and citizens.
Following the Eid prayers, Shaikh Mohammad will receive well-wishers at Al Mushrif Palace on the first day of Eid.
His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah will perform Eid prayers at Al Badea Musallah. He will be joined in prayers by Shaikhs, senior officials and citizens.
His Highness Shaikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, and Shaikh Mohammad Bin Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Crown Prince of Ras Al Khaimah, will perform Eid prayer at the Khuzam Grand Eid Mussala. They will be joined in prayer by Shaikhs, senior officials and citizens.
His Highness Shaikh Hamad Bin Mohammad Al Sharqi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Fujairah, and Shaikh Mohammad Bin Hamad Bin Mohammad Al Sharqi, Crown Prince of Fujairah, will perform Eid prayers at the Fujairah Grand Eid Mussala. They will be joined in prayers by Shaikhs, senior officials and citizens.
Eid mussallahs and prayers timings
The Eid prayers start off the festivities after the month-long day-time fast during Ramadan. The massive Eid mussallahs (prayer grounds) in various parts of the emirates are usually packed early morning as families and friends pray and greet each other. The Eid prayers are at different timings in each emirate. Here are the prayer timings and the main mosques and mussallahs in each emirate.
Eid Prayer timing 6.16 am
Mosques Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque,Old Airport Road; Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Mosque, Al Mushrif Area; Omer Bin Yousuf Mosque, Al Hamdan Street; Thani Bin Mohammad Mosque, Muroor Road; Darwish Bin Karam Mosque, Hamdan Street; Shaikh Khalifa Mosque, Al Estiqlal Road; Ali Bin Ganem Hamooda Mosque, Electra Street.
Prayer timing 6.21 am
Mosques Rashidiya Grand Mosque; Jumeirah Grand Mosque; Zarooni Mosque, Al Twar 3; Qurtoba Mosque, Al Satwa; Al Futaim Mosque, Al Ras
Mussallah Bur Dubai; Umm Suqeim; Deira and Al Hatta
Prayer timing 6.17 am
Mussallah Al Bade'a, Al Falaj ground in Al Abar, Al Zubair prayer grounds in Al Zubair area, Al Khan Mussallah, Al Hamriya Musalla, and Abu Mousa Mussallah.
Mosques King Faisal Mosque, Al Sour area; Umm Qur, Al Guweilah area; Al Maghifirah Mosque, Al Majjarah Bin Darwish Mosque and Abu Dhari Al Gafaru Mosque in Al Majjarah area, Jamia Masjid in Al Maraija, Ali Bin Abi Talib Mosque, Bin Kamil Mosque and Abu Hanifa Mosque in Al Shuwayehan area.
— By Mahmood Saberi, Senior Reporter and Mariam M Al Serkal and Samihah Zaman, Staff Reporters