Dubai: Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, people of different faiths used to join their Muslim friends and colleagues in making their long Eid Al Adha holidays in the UAE memorable. They also used to enjoy outdoor activities and trips with their families and friends.
In view of the COVID-19 safety regulations, Gulf News spoke to UAE residents of different faiths to find out what has changed during the pandemic with regard to their Eid Al Adha celebrations. Here is what four young women had to share.
No picnic may be, but plans aplenty
Born and brought up in Dubai, young Instagrammer Divya Premchand said picnics with friends’ families were on top of her family’s Eid holiday plans earlier.
“We all would go out with home-cooked food. Every family would cook something and bring the preparations along to the parks. Or we would be watching a Salman Khan movie during Eid. Sometimes, we would binge watch two to three movies in a day,” she said.
“We have a Muslim friend in our group. We would visit his house or we would all plan a dinner together. Also, I absolutely love deciding on their clothes for Eid, while my dad would give Eidi to the poor families in the community. My dad is big on gifting; he would also give gifts to some friends we’ve know for long.”
The pandemic has forced the Hindu family to seek alternatives to being part of a large gathering and Premchand has ruled out a picnic in the park this time. “It’s quite hot and due to the pandemic, there are fewer movies. We won’t be able to have gatherings too. That’s why we are planning to stay indoors. We might be heading to the Green Planet. We might also try some new restaurants since it’s just four of us and yes, sales are on which means shopping — both online and offline,” she added.
Diving course instead of BBQ
British expatriate Lyndsey Redstone came to the UAE with her sister, 11 years ago. “My sister originally came with me, but went back to the UK in 2018.”
Getting together for barbecue with her group of close friends, and her sister when she was here, and going out to watch the fireworks used to be the routine for Eid holidays for Redstone. “We would also gather with our Muslim friends with a lot of food. Or we would book a villa somewhere in the UAE and a group of us would stay and celebrate together,” recollected Redstone, an executive sales consultant with a real estate company.
However, the Eid celebration plans for her are different this time.
“This Eid, I will learn a new skill and have booked my PADI scuba diving course over three days. For me, family time is very important. Previously, I used to visit my family in London during the hotter months and arrange for them to visit here in the winter. But I can’t do that now.”
It’s time for family and shopping
The family of Pavneet Kaur, who works in the media, has been in the UAE for four decades. Kaur’s grandmother often shuttles between Dubai and New Delhi.
“Before the pandemic, we would plan day-outs with my extended family and sometimes even go to our Muslim family friends’ places for dinner. We used to be excited to make the plans in advance,” said Kaur.
With some of their closest friends being Muslims, Kaur’s Sikh family used to get invited to their homes for Eid celebrations.
“It used to feel so good to be part of the traditions. The UAE is home to expats from so many diverse cultural backgrounds and we are lucky to live harmoniously with all of them and be culturally receptive towards other nationalities.”
Kaur feels very privileged to be living in Dubai during the pandemic. “We can still go out, do everything while taking the necessary precautions — unlike in many other countries — though we can’t really join our extended family and friends.” Even then, the family is looking forward to the Eid holidays as a welcome break.
“In these holidays, we want to spend time with my father, even if it means just staying at home — having lunch together or going out on a staycation. We haven’t really made up our minds on a definite plan. Maybe I’ll plan a day out for my parents on one of the Eid days.”
With her sister and grandmother stuck in India due to the suspension of flights, Kaur said the family would be connecting with them over video calls during the holidays.
Staycation instead of flying home
Having lived in the UAE since 2000, the family of Sanya Jain mostly used to fly home to India during the long Eid break.
“We would meet our families in Jaipur, Rajasthan, and spend quality family time. We love to reunite with our family members in India and watch lots of movies together, go out, have the traditional delicacies of Jaipur and just spend time with our grandparents and cousins,” said Jain, a content creator and culinary artist.
Due to the pandemic, however, the Jain family is planning a staycation this time around. “We plan on heading for a staycation at a resort in Dubai, enjoy the beautiful sunset, swim together, laugh together, eat together and make lots of memories together as a family. We also plan to visit our friends, have some nice ‘karak chai’ with them and spend some quality time together. We will go shopping on one of the days as Dubai has such great offers during these Eid holidays and DSS [Dubai Summer Surprises],” Jain added.