Every year, Sufiyan would save extra money to travel back home for Eid Al Fitr. He would pre-book his tickets and ensure to buy gifts for all his family members. But this year, as he spends Eid alone in Dubai, he would not be able to send any money or gifts back home for the festival.
He is struggling to survive himself, spending time within the confines of his accommodation and waiting for the day when things would turn better. Sufiyan, who worked as office supervisor for 14 years, was asked to take leave without pay a month back. He doesn’t know when or if at all he can return to work ever.
Sufiyan said he had pre-booked his ticket to Kerala for May 25 but now he cannot travel.
“My kids have been desperately waiting for me to be with them for Eid.”
Sufiyan is the sole bread winner for his family. But now he hasn’t been able to send any money to them.
Eid Al Fitr is one of the most celebrated festivals for Muslims around the world marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan. It is celebrated with a lot of excitement and fervour. But with Covid-19 having gripped the world, Eid this year isn’t the same for expats in the UAE.
“There is a feeling of sadness and fear at the same time. So many lives are being lost each day. Everyone is insecure about his own life,” said Muzaffar, who works in a construction company in Dubai.
No means of income
He says that the lock downs and persistent spread of coronavirus have taken the excitement. “Besides, there are so many people who have no jobs, no means of income all over the world. It feels sad.”
Indian Expat, Riyaz Wani misses praying Eid prayers in the mosque. Due to the covid-19 congregational prayers have been suspended in UAE like many other countries.
“Eid this year is obviously different. We can’t meet our friends and families and more important is we can’t offer Eid prayers in the mosques. We miss that charm,” said Riyaz who works as service adviser in Dubai.
He has made no plans for Eid and would stay at home.
“We would pray for this virus to end and for the recovery of those fighting for life around the world. We hope everything will be normal soon,” he told Gulf News.
Coronavirus has killed millions around the globe with the number increasing each day. Sterilisation drives have been underway in the UAE and residents have been asked to stay indoors. Residents are planning to observe Eid with simplicity and ensure safety.
Like many other expats, Mahum Anees said she did not do any shopping for the Eid. Her family rather chose to help the needy.
Stay safe, stay home, stay healthy
“Covid-19 may take off the shine of this year’s festivity but what’s most important is the well-being of our loved ones and humans abounds us. Stay safe, Stay home, Stay healthy and enjoy this time with your loved ones,” Mahum, who lives in Sharjah, told Gulf News.
She says that busy lives had distanced family members living within the same home.
“Coronavirus brought us closer. Instead of making ourselves busy with feast with our friends and extended families, we will spend time at home have long conversations with each other.”
Even as her parents and sibling live five minutes away from her home, she would prefer to stay safe at home on Eid.
Indian couple Mehreen and Asif who live in Dubai say they might not step out for any shopping or outing on Eid. With an infant at home, they prefer being safer.
“We will not be able to meet friends and family this Eid nor invite anyone for festivities. It doesn’t feel safe to go out to eat. Shopping is out of question too. We just hope everyone stays safe wherever they are. We only look forward to the video calls to wish everyone a safe Eid, and really hope by next Eid things will be back to normal,” the couple said.
Amid all this, Farida Khalil who lives in Abu Dhabi is trying to bring excitement to her home this Eid Al Fitr.
“I’m excited to make it a little different for the kids as this is going to be the first Eid celebrated at home. It is a sad situation but safety first,” said Farida who hails from Pakistan.
She adds that her two daughters have been little upset for not been able to meet cousins and friends.
“So I have kept them engaged in Eid related activities like simple Eid decorations to keep them happy and excited.”
Farida and her family did not shop for Eid and decided to spend wisely.
“We only bought gifts for kids, one for each, as a reward for their good behaviour.”
(Some name have been changed on request)
— Sana Altaf is a Dubai based freelance writer