Thousands of blue-collar workers in Sharjah enjoyed cultural and entertainment activities during the Eid Al Adha festival.
Live performers on stage, playing musical styles from Bollywood, Punjab, Bengal and Africa, entertained workers at Al Sajaa Labour Park in Sharjah during the Eid Al Adha holiday.
Workers were also given complimentary meals and offered free medical tests.
The festival, which is being held for the first time, was organised by the Labour Standards Development Authority in Sharjah (LSDA).
Salem Yousef Al Qaseer, chairman of LSDA, said there was huge participation from workers in the emirate.
“The event aims to boost social and cultural ties among workers from different nationalities in Sharjah by bringing them together in one place to exchange greetings and share joy,” he said.
"Our aim is to create an attractive working environment in the emirate."
Abdullah Palam, a social worker and event co-ordinator for labour development with the Sharjah Indian Association, said about 10,000 workers had attended on the first day of Eid Al Adha where thousands of biryani meals were distributed.
“We had 4,000 workers who performed Eid prayer in the park in the early hours of the morning and we distributed about 5,000 pieces of sweets,” he said.
"With government and private partners, about 2,000 gifts, including phones and bicycles, were presented to lucky workers who took part in the draws."
Workers queued at a tent for Majlis Optics for a free eye test and could choose from a variety of frames and lenses.
Others queued for free medical and dental examinations.
Indian construction worker Mohammed Rayazuddin, 46, said the festival was a chance for him to enjoy traditional Indian music and food. He also had a free eye test.
“I’m a construction worker and my life is about going to the workplace by bus and returning to the labour camp. Instead of having this routine, I had the chance to enjoy this fascinating festival,” he told The National.
“This is the first time have had an event like this and I’m loving it.”
Volunteers were on hand to make sure everyone followed precautionary measures, like the wearing of masks, to prevent the spread of Covid-19, as well as distribute meals and help workers.
Abdul Latif Al Qadhi, a volunteer with the Red Crescent and one of the event organisers, said the park — with two cricket pitches, two playing fields, walking paths and green spaces — caters to workers in the UAE ideally.
“The festival includes lectures to raise awareness about the country's laws and safety protocols," he said.
"We distributed more than 2,000 boxes containing hygiene products.”
The park serves more than 100,000 workers in the industrial area.
Yousef Saleh, a volunteer with Sharjah Charity International, said his team was keen to participate in the festival to bring joy and happiness to workers.
“We have a volunteer who is a person of determination to help distribute 1,000 meals to workers," he said. "We feel happy to bring joy to workers during Eid Al Adha."
Bijay Magar, 30, a worker from Nepal who lives near the park, gathered with his friends to watch the live performances when the temperature dropped after sunset.
“I work in the luggage section at Sharjah Airport,” he said. "I like music and songs. It is nice to be here and the atmosphere is positive.
"We are tired after working and this event is like a stress relief for us and different from our daily routine."
The festival continues until July 15.