DUBAI // While many people celebrate Eid by enjoying the novelty of an afternoon lunch at their favourite restaurant or visiting a mall, a hardcore of fitness enthusiasts were busy working up a sweat.
At Dubai Sports World, a sprawling indoor venue, hundreds of people took advantage of the two-day private sector holiday to sneak in a few hours playing their favourite sports.
The venue is open for 11 weeks at Dubai World Trade Centre and has areas for football, basketball, volleyball, cricket, badminton and table tennis. It also has an indoor running track, a well equipped gym and a skate park.
It has been popular since it launched on June 11 and saw only a very modest fall in visitors during Ramadan. While numbers were down on the first day of Eid Al Fitr on Monday, many regulars did not pass up the opportunity to spend more time on the courts.
“I’ve been coming here since it opened and I’ve already lost four kilograms,” said Reggie Altare, 44 from the Philippines. “We have two days off for Eid, so instead of going to the mall and just eating and eating, my friends and I decided to come here.
“You might not start off as a health buff, but if you come regularly you will end up becoming one.”
Mayar Diab, 18, from Syria, and his friend Mosaab Alshayb, 19, from Palestine, were spending the day skateboarding.
During Ramadan they would normally come for an hour after 9pm, but now it is Eid they planned to spend as much time as they could skating before college starts in early September.
“Since it is the first day of Eid, we wanted to celebrate by doing what we love to do most of all,” said Mr Diab.
Meghna Pursnani, deputy supervisor at the venue, said about 2,000-3,000 people came through the doors every week.
“We expect that number to go up a bit as more people come back from holidays after Ramadan,” she said.
Jim Reilly, director at football academy IFA sport, said when the venue first opened before Ramadan they had about 120 children aged 4 to 16 years old booking for training every day.
That dipped to 80 per day during the holy month and just 35 on Monday. “That’s probably because a lot of people have gone on holiday,” he said. “We expect the number to go up to about 120 per day again after Eid.”
Pradhu Menon, 27 from Malaysia, was playing basketball with friends. “It’s much healthier than just walking around a mall,” he said. “It’s also a much more fun way to get together with friends.”