World heralds the beginning of Eid Al Fitr
The moon-sighting committee announced that the first day of the month of Shawwal, and therefore the first day of Eid Al Fitr, will be Friday.
Earlier in the week, it was announced that holiday for private sector employees would be Shawwal 1 and 2 and for public employees the first day of the holiday would be Thursday and the last Shawwal 3, or Sunday.
This means private-sector employees who do not work on the weekends will be unlikely to get any extra holiday.
The UAE’s moon-sighting committee uses a two pronged approach, first searching for the new moon using telescopes and then confirming the new moon by sighting it with the naked eye.
The aroma of freshly-baked Eid cookies, the chanting of Takbir prayers and lively conversations exchanged over feasts tell the story of Eid Al Fitr spent among family members.
However, for expatriates celebrating in the UAE away from family, Eid is spent with the communities they have built.
Isra Keshk, a third-year business management student at the American University of Sharjah, is spending her first Eid away from her home in Cairo.
“I plan to spend this Eid around a bonfire with my friends, sharing laughs and deep talks, making smores and playing aroosty (charades) and other games together,” said Ms Keshk, 19. “We will be going camping in Al Ain or Hatta to enjoy nature.”
With flickering fairy lights intertwined around her bed frame, a rainbow garland around her dorm room ceiling
and musk perfume in the air, Ms Keshk recreates her family Eid traditions with her friends to feel closer to home.
Coursework and midterm papers that are due after her holiday prevent Ms Keshk from enjoying Eid with her family.
“My twin brothers sent me a voicenote yesterday on WhatsApp telling me please come for a day or two, play with us on Eid,” said Ms Keshk. “It pains me that I can’t be there with them but I will be too exhausted to study after Eid if I were to fly there.”
Ayaz Ramadan, 24, shares the same reminder of loneliness that Eid holds for him this year.
“You’re missing everything,” he said. “You can’t hug them (relations) through the distance. But we come here for a reason, we want to secure our future so we have to be patient.”
Mr Ramadan learned how to create his own community away from his family in Pakistan.
“I spend Eid with the roommates,” he said. “We make food and spend time together. The two days pass by very fast.”
Eid slipped away from Mr Ramadan last year as he washed vehicles in car parks. He hoped that working as a business executive this year would enable him to enjoy Eid with his family, but he has to complete a two-year contract with his company before he is offered an airline ticket home.
With a crack in his voice, he said: “Even though I don’t have many friends here I know I have Allah. Allah gives you patience, if you’re praying you feel that He is with you.”
Rola Zinaty will spend her ninth Eid away from Lebanon this year. The brevity of the break and having a tight budget have kept her from home.
“No matter how hard I try to create a joyful atmosphere for myself, it’s still a holiday that reopens wounds and one that is hard to enjoy because all I can think about is how badly I want to be with my family,” she said.
A trip home during the break to see her family would cost her between Dh5,000 and Dh10,000.
Ms Zinaty and Mr Ramadan use social media and phone calls to connect with family.
“I interact more with my father over the phone than through text,” said Ms Zinaty. “I need to hear his voice to find out if everything is okay.”