Dubai: There's a spirit of joy in the air for Christian expatriates celebrating their most important festival of the year despite being far from home.
"My parents, my brother and nephew are here with me," said Jeny Florida Painagan, who was enjoying lunch with her family on Christmas Day at a mall. The Filipina, however, said she misses the "noise" and fun-filled festive cheer back home.
Susha A., an Indian, was on her way to a lunch with her extended family in Dubai. "I miss my parents," she said. Earlier she had called them and her in-laws and wished them all for the season.
The couple had attended the Friday morning service and said all three churches in Jebel Ali were "packed". The church complex in Oud Metha Road was also packed.
Reverend Stephen Miller, Chaplain to The Mission of the Seafarers, said he had been busy distributing about 600 presents yesterday morning to seamen. Many Western expatriates who had planned to go home for the holidays faced nail-biting suspense over delayed flights due to heavy snowstorms buffeting Europe and North America.
Meanwhile, a 16-year-old student recently visited a workers' accommodation and presented Christmas hampers to nearly 200 workers in the true spirit of goodwill towards people.
Yuvraj Talwar, who studies at Dubai College, surprised the workers at Euro Clean in Al Quoz Industrial Area Tuesday afternoon when he gave them gift hampers containing flour, oil, biscuits, other basic food items and toiletries.
"When you drive past [Al Quoz] every day, you realise that you have access to whatever you want at any time, while they don't have that much," said Talwar. A swarm of eager faces greeted the truckload of goods, as the workers smiled while politely forming a queue to receive their gift hampers.
Nearby workers then soon gathered around the accommodation's entrance to see what was going on, since it is not a common sight to see people who are not workers in that area.
"Most of the charity is done mostly as a group effort, when a number of people come together to help a few individuals, so I wanted to do something individually that will help a large group," he said, noting that he hopes his actions will encourage others to do the same.
This is not the first time that Talwar has lent a helping hand, since he is also a member of Medicins Sans Frontiers.
Talwar said his mother helped him to hand out the items which were sponsored by Tiffany Foods.