Business groups take Eid break in their stride

The Eid break disrupted some operations but no more than elsewhere, according to many UAE companies.

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ABU DHABI // The UAE's break with the rest of the world for Eid al Adha disrupted some operations, but no more than holidays elsewhere, many companies said yesterday.

As the Emirates returned to business as usual, Robert Schwarz, a committee member at British Business Group Abu Dhabi, said that, for the most part, there were few difficulties over the holidays.

"Our members were not really affected internally; people came in during the required working hours and finished their assignments," he said. The two biggest impacts, he said, were delayed responses between businesses and Government, and a disincentive for Emiratis to join private industry.

The fact that employees in the public sector get longer holidays, he said, makes it more difficult for private companies to convince some Emiratis to join.

Simon Williams, the chief economist for HSBC Middle East, said such long breaks exist in every country.

"There is a seasonality in every economy whether it's Eid in the Middle East or Christmas in the West," he said.

"It does make a slight difference that our schedule is not in line with the West, but there's no major impact. It's no different than trying to deal with the French in August or the British in December."

Still, many continued to work over Eid. Shamsher Ali and his colleagues in a mall-based carpet shop said they had to cope with unusually large crowds throughout the holidays last week.

"We did not have a break during Eid. We just went to pray and then back to work again," said Mr Ali, who manages Emad Carpets in Dubai Mall. "It was a very busy time and lots of people came to us."

Students, meanwhile, arrived back in class yesterday, refreshed after the long break, administrators said.

Although it was not announced until about a week earlier, the Eid break did not come as a surprise, said Mohammed al Hosani, the Principal at Abu Dhabi Secondary School.

"We already knew that the Eid break this year would be a long one and come with a weekend; this was included in the academic calendar for all schools," he said.

According to Dr Christina Gitsaki, the Unesco chair in applied research in education at the Sharjah Higher Colleges of Technology, a long break could hurt the education system.

"Being away from school for long periods can cause disruptions in the learning process," she said. "It is also noticed that before the start of the vacation and a few days after children get back to school, they tend to be distracted."

Few traffic jams and accidents were tied to Eid or the post-holiday rush, officials said.

No problems were reported in Abu Dhabi or Dubai. In Sharjah and the Northern Emirates, however, several incidents were reported.

RA, 15, an Emirati, died in Umm al Qaiwain on Thursday after being struck by a car as he was crossing the Al Ittihad Road in the Refa area, said Col Seif Saleem, the director of the traffic department at Salma police station.

An Indonesian woman was hit by a speeding car in the Shuwayheen area of Sharjah while trying to cross a road on Thursday, said Ahmed bin Darwish, the head of the Sharjah police patrol unit.

A Filipina was knocked down on Al Wahda Road as she was trying to make her way across it last week.

In Ajman, an Indian man was severely injured in an accident in Nuaimiya.

* With additional reporting by Hala Khalaf, Zoi Constantine, Yasin Kakande, Haneen Dajani and Afshan Ahmed