Eid Al Fitr is all about prayers and family fun. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: In 2020, the coronavirus changed the way we observed Ramadan. And now, it will also change the way we celebrate Eid.

Eid Al Fitr is expected to fall on either May 23 or 24, depending on Friday’s sighting of the crescent moon that marks the end of Ramadan and the start of Eid. Muslims around the world celebrate Eid Al Fitr, the festival of breaking the fast, although the date of the celebration may differ in countries due to the methodology involved in the moonsighting.

Eid is an occasion that has always been celebrate with family and friends, but this year, the severity of COVID-19 has led UAE authorities to impose stringent rules to ensure that the practice of social distancing is followed, while warning that violations will be met with hefty fines.

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The recently introduced measures include updating the national disinfection programme from 8pm-6am, and from 6pm-6am in industrial areas, which will continue until further notice. As of Wednesday May 20, individuals will be issued with a fine of 10,000 for hosting a gathering, Dh3,000 for travelling with more than three people in a car or not wearing masks.

As part of the precautionary measures against the spread of COVID-19, the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA) has warned residents to avoid gatherings during Eid and instead, send their greeting through social media and text messages.

“The instructions to refrain from distributing Eidiya among children during the Eid period came as a precautionary measure, especially that some studies have stated the possibility of coronavirus transmission through bills,” said Dr Saif Al Dhaheri, spokesperson for NCEMA, during Wednesday night’s press briefing. He also advised against gifting money and presents, as is usually customary during the Eid celebration.

Throughout many countries, it has always been customary for adults to gift children new bank notes – and the closer the relation, the bigger the amount. The tradition of Eidiya is not necessarily limited to adults and can be handed out by anyone who is older than the receiver, which ranges from younger siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins and basically, any child who pays a visit to your home.

What are the options for Eidiya?

Local authorities have stressed the importance of not handing out new bank notes or money to children this year as part of the preventive measures against coronavirus. But that doesn’t mean that you have to stop giving out gifts altogether. If you want to keep on the tradition of surprising loved ones on Eid, here are a few alternatives that you can try.

Opt for e-gift cards

UAE residents were urged to not distribute Eidiya among children during the Eid celebration as a precautionary measure against COVID-19. Image Credit: Pexels

Loved ones can still be showered with presents, and all it takes is an electronic gift voucher. Although purchasing one might feel kind of strange at first, think of this as a modern take on the traditional Eidiya, which can be used in many online stores. E-gift cards work just like regular gift cards, with the only difference in that a digital card with a code is emailed to the recipient. E-gifts don’t have to be purchased only from stores, as you can also take advantage of your local bank and check if they’re offering any special e-gift cards for children this Eid.

Send money through ToTok

Online money transfer
Online money transfers can be done through a number of mobile apps. Image Credit: Pixabay

If you’ve got the ToTok instant messaging service, then you can access PayBy, which operates mobile payment services in partnership with the financial institution First Abu Dhabi Bank. PayBy allows users to quickly and conveniently send instant money transfers to their family and friends through the chat app. Once a person receives the new Eidiya gift, the money remains in their ToTok wallet to use as they see fit.

“We understand the things our users value most, and are committed to supporting important traditions, such as Eidiya. PayBy on ToTok offers our users a new and simple way to send their Eidiya gifts from the comfort of their own home – or wherever they may be," said ToTok co-founder Giacomo Ziani in a statement.

Online shopping

Holiday shopping online
Many UAE-based digital e-commerce platforms offer customers the option of delivering goods within 24 hours, subject to availability. Image Credit: Pexels

There are quite a number of UAE-based digital e-commerce platforms available, which offer all of your favourite brands under one roof, such as noon.com or amazon.ae. Ranging anywhere from Barbie dolls and Play Dohs to Lego boxes and electronic games, take your time to choose exactly what kind of present you want to surprise that little person. And remember, always make sure to write down the correct address and telephone number of recipients when buying their gifts online!