Dubai school hosts thousands for celebrations on morning of Eid Al Fitr

Event at Al Salam Community School brings people together and starts the day's festivities

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Thousands of Dubai residents came together to attend prayers and celebrate Eid Al Fitr in the grounds of Al Salam Community School early on Wednesday.

Recreating the carnival-like atmosphere of an Eidgah, an open area where Eid prayers are held, the event aimed to launch the day's festivities and bring together residents, many of whom mark the day away from their families back in their home countries.

There was a bouncy castle for children, while food and ice creams were given out to families, with a henna corner for women.

This event gives me the opportunity to interact with a lot of people who have become like my extended family in the UAE
Abbas Shaikh, owner of the British Islamic Nursery

The event was organised by Kalemah Islamic Centre, a non-profit organisation under the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department in Dubai. The centre held the first outdoor prayer and Eid event in 2016.

Salma Abdussalam, an Indian resident in Dubai, was at Al Salam Community School at 5am to volunteer with her family.

“We usually celebrate Eid with our family and since we are volunteering, my children, husband and I are all on the ground, setting up the place to eat,” said Ms Abdussalam, owner of Nisaa Fitness, which works to empower women through sport and fitness activities.

She said the family enjoyed charity work and wanted to teach their children the value of serving others.

“Many people are away from their families in Dubai and especially for those people, we wanted to bring that sense of oneness that they are not alone,” she said.

“We are there as a family to celebrate this moment together. We love doing charity and we wanted our children to know how it feels to be there for others.

“It gives you inner peace. We wanted our children to experience the feeling.”

Social occasion for all

Ms Abdussalam said her husband and three children start the day with Eid prayers and then have breakfast with their extended family of about 25 to 30 people. They later have lunch and, in the evening, meet friends to play games.

“Most of the people here in the UAE are either living alone or do not have families here,” said Ahmad Jawhar, operations manager at Kalemah Islamic Centre.

“We wanted to have this one family event with everything from gifts for children, to a play area for them, to a henna corner for women, something fun for all the family.

“We have food and we also have some games for children and a bouncy castle.”

Last year between 4,000 and 5,000 people attended the event.

Abbas Shaikh, owner of the British Islamic Nursery, attended the prayers and celebrations with his wife and daughter.

“I am Australian so I've got a lot of my family back home in Australia,” he said.

“This event gives me the opportunity to interact with a lot of people who have become like my extended family in the UAE. I've been attending this event organised by Kalemah for the last five years.

“I remember the time when they used to have this event in a park and then from there they moved and progressed to the school to accommodate more people.”

Families beyond families

Salman Ahmad, a manager at Emirates Airline, has lived in the UAE for more than 40 years and said he considers the country his home.

A volunteer at Kalemah, Mr Ahmad attended the celebrations with his wife and three children.

“We have been celebrating with them since 2016, when they had initially come up with a new concept of doing Eid in the parks when the weather was good,” said Mr Ahmad, from Pakistan. “The first celebration was held in Mushrif Park.

“When you go to your local mosque, you don't have a celebration, you pray and just leave. Here, you meet new Muslims who have just accepted Islam and you meet different people from the community.

“After Eid prayers, we leave the mosque in 10 minutes but here, people stay for a few hours.

“Ladies have their henna corner and children have their bouncy castles and Eid goody bags and Eidi are distributed, which brings back memories of childhood for all of us.”

He said restaurants and local people sponsored food while the whole community came together to support the event.

Updated: April 10, 2024, 5:49 AM