ABU DHABI // Thousands of worshippers have turned out to attend Eid Al Adha prayers around the country this morning, with people of all ages flocking to Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Mosque from as early as 5.15am.
Groups of men stopped in corners to take pictures, women bumped into their friends and exchanged greetings, with an Eid feeling clearly in the air. The sounds of the takbeer flowed throught the speakers as men chanted the traditional phrases preceding Eid prayers non-stop. "Allah the greatest, there is no God but Allah, Allah the greatest and to him we are thankful."
Two women showed up at the mosque with their two and three-year-old daughters, carrying colourful balloons. “We wanted something to entertain the children as we pray," said Deena Abdullah, 28.
The Egyptian housewife said she felt Eid had really begun when she arrived and heard the takbeer and saw the flocks of worshippers entering.
"It is a beautiful atmosphere," she said.
Even the children's fashion sense reflected Eid. Women started pointing at young boys elegantly dressed in full national clothes, and girls wearing colourful outfits with hair accessories and small purses.
"I feel I'm in paradise," said Salima Allam, a 28-year-old saleswoman from the Philippines.
Miss Allam arrived with her five female relatives at 5.30am to what they said was the biggest mosque they had ever attended.
"I came to this mosque because I did not perform Haj yet. Even though I cannot afford to go to Mecca I feel this is like Mecca for me," said her companion Sarah Salili, 42, a Filipina maid. "That's why we wanted to experience [coming here]. We don't know what will happen tomorrow so we want to experience it now," added Mrs Salili.
By 6.50am the prayer halls had filled up and worshippers started taking their positions in the courtyard.
One woman started distributing cash to all the children present in the female prayer hall. The Eideya - an amount of cash given to children and sometimes adults by their older relatives - is a tradition on the first day of Eid as inherited from the Prophet Mohammed.
The prayers started at 7.15am.