Lubna Fahmi ,Egyptian expatriate Image Credit: Supplied picture

Abu Dhabi: Valentine's Day is perhaps one of the few holidays during the year that is regarded with a mixture of dread and excitement, plus a touch of indifference.

If you do have a loved one, the pressure's on to find that perfect, romantic gift — while if you're single, you might feel pressured to find a date so you won't be alone on the ‘day of love' as it has come to be known.

However, there are many people who have decided not to give in to the commercialisation of Valentine's Day. Instead, they will be celebrating it their way, whether with a group of friends, or with a loved one.


"Many people probably don't like celebrating Valentine's Day because of how commercial it has become. Instead of focusing on that, they could turn it around and make it work for them by doing something unique and personal," Paul Estorffe, a British Lebanese expatriate, said.

For Mohammad Sherif, an Arab American expatriate, Valentine's Day does not necessarily have to be focus on couples, but could also be celebrated with family and friends.

"Usually if I'm with someone, I would celebrate Valentine's Day with her, of course, but if I'm single, which is the case right now, I would either invite friends over who are also free…or I go out with members of my family for dinner, which is what I prefer to be honest. When I go out with them, I make sure to buy presents for them and celebrate, as I would do with my girlfriend," he said.

That sentiment is one that seems to resonate with others who, in their own way, are planning on celebrating this occasion.

"My best friend's birthday is on Valentine's Day, so I tend to celebrate everything at the same time during that day," Lubna Fahmi, an Egyptian expatriate said. "The last time I celebrated Valentine's Day with a guy was eight years ago, others who I've dated don't seem to be really romantic," she added.

Lubna added she prefers to celebrate with friends and family, whether it's buying gifts for her parents or going out with friends for dinner. She has even noticed a perk of being a woman in the UAE around this particular day.

"What I like about here [the UAE] is that when women go to various places around Valentine's Day, shops sometimes give them roses as a promotion. It's nice to get something like that… not that I'm saying guys shouldn't get roses as well, but I don't think they would care too much for them," she said, laughing.

Sarah Hannoun, a Jordanian expatriate, noted this trend towards focusing on family and close friends, or for couples, to keep their Valentine's Day celebrations simple could be the result of the global financial crisis.

"Because of the global financial crisis, not a lot of people can afford to splurge, so instead they focus on one another or focus on family and friends. Also, the pressure of Valentine's Day to be as romantic as possible is silly. I mean, if I was in a relationship, does it mean that I love that person just because it's Valentine's? Anyway, I tend to give gifts and flowers to my mother and brother, and they give me also."

Another thing Sarah pointed out was more and more people regard Valentine's as just another holiday and there probably isn't a lot of stigma being attached to singles on this day any more.

"If I'm single, I don't feel ashamed about that around Valentine's Day. Valentine's is about celebrating with your loved ones, whether they're family, friends or anything else…," she added.

Do you celebrate Valentine's Day? Or do you think it is too commercialised? Is the concept of the occasion misunderstood?