Eid Al Fitr 2021: families feel blessed to be in UAE as they gear for up for intimate celebrations

Authorities urged residents to celebrate virtually this year to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus

UAE residents plan to celebrate the joys of Eid Al Fitr at home with family as large gatherings give way to more intimate affairs.

Government officials called on the public to share holiday greetings online, avoid exchanging gifts and food with neighbours and to avoid socialising with people outside their household this year.

It is a message expected to be heeded by families across the Emirates who are keen to support nationwide efforts to further drive down Covid-19 infection rates.

Eid Al Fitr will begin this week, with the start of the festival to be confirmed by the Moon-sighting committee.

We feel blessed to be living in UAE where we are at least moving about with a lot more freedom and ease than many other countries

Reshma Khan, 44, an Indian citizen who has been living in Dubai for 17 years, said it was important for the public to act responsibly during challenging times.

"Under the current pandemic situation, the meaning and ways of celebration have completely changed," said Ms Khan, who lives with her husband and young daughter.

“As responsible citizens, we would simply celebrate among our family members at home with good food, traditional sweets and calls to extended family and friends.”

She said Eid, for her, would not be much different to last year because she and her family will celebrate at home.

Ms Khan also urged other residents to celebrate with only immediate family members and help curb the spread of the virus.

"Although it is definitely a lot different celebrating during the pandemic, we feel blessed to be living in the UAE where we are at least moving about with a lot more freedom and ease than many other countries in the rest of the world," she said.

“We miss being home to celebrate in a grand way with the family, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry."

The UAE has a large population of residents from South Asian countries, many of whom would typically either host guests from their home country or travel back.

However, the UAE extended the suspension of entry for travellers from India on all flights on national and foreign airlines, as the country contends with a record number of Covid-19 cases.

Meanwhile, Pakistan has reduced 80 per cent of its inbound flights to contain the virus during the busy Eid time.

Some non-Muslim residents in the UAE, who are also used to attending Eid gatherings held by their friends, said they would mark the holiday virtually this year.

Himanshi Jesrani, 25, an American citizen, said she would celebrate at home with her parents.

"Celebrations amid a pandemic do not quite feel the same, especially knowing some of our loved ones are still fighting their battles," said Ms Jesrani, who works as a product designer and educator.

“Last year, we rediscovered cooking some of our favourite Middle-Eastern dishes at home to continue our tradition of an Eid buffet. Together, my parents and I are looking forward to the same this year with some new recipes.

“The holidays are a perfect time to catch up with our family and friends. While sharing memories from over the years, we also enjoy virtual games such as Bingo and Pictionary to play with everyone, of all ages.”

Jyoti Narang Watchmaker, an Indian citizen who has lived in Dubai for five years, said she would not travel abroad this Eid, but would go on a staycation with her husband and son.

“It is not the same because we miss the Eid gatherings at our friend’s [who are Muslims and fast], they host us all at their home for an annual Eid lunch,” she said.

“We will miss dressing up in shararas and kurtas [traditional clothing in India and Pakistan] this year because we can’t visit them at their home due to the pandemic.”

Eid Al Fitr gift ideas – in pictures