There were no customary hugs, kisses and handshakes outside UAE mosques on Thursday. Instead, Muslims wished each other ‘Eid Mubarak’ through waves and elbow bumps — the new greeting in the new-normal world.
Most families and bachelors are celebrating at home, without any gatherings, and many have planned short trips over the weekend. But everyone had the one prayer: For the pandemic to end and for life to get back to normal.
Salem Al Harbi, an Emirati, is strictly following all safety rules, doing his part to prevent another surge in infections.
“The country tackled this pandemic situation very well. Last year, the mosques were shut but now they are open. Yes, there are restrictions but it’s for our own safety and well-being,” Al Harbi said after offering his prayer at a mosque in Abu Dhabi City. “Our Eid will be with our close family. We may go out over the weekend but no major plans, camps and barbeque.”
Khaled Al Menhali, who works in the public sector, said that under the current circumstances, prayers are more important than celebrations.
“We seek Allah’s forgiveness and blessings for all of us to emerge stronger from the coronavirus situation. Visiting relatives and friends is a ritual followed as part of the Eid Al Fitr celebrations, but we have again chosen to limit gatherings and travel. We should learn from what’s happening around the world, like India, where the second wave of Covid is claiming lives,” Al Menhali said after the morning prayer.
There are also no celebrations for Mohammed Salim, an unemployed Indian expat with end-stage renal failure, as he lost three family members to Covid back home.
“I am undergoing dialysis thrice a week here since 2013. I have lost my job then and now, the coronavirus took away my mother-in-law, elder brother and cousin sister in Bihar state. Everyone is scared. My daughter is in Grade 10. I pray for their and everyone’s safety. I hope to get a transplant soon so that I can support my family,” he said.
Businessman Hameed Iqbal is looking forward to a short trip to cope with the stress brought about by the pandemic. “We have planned a road trip to Dubai. But all of us are vaccinated and taken RT-PCR tests. We understand the current situation. But I believe a short trip, a first for us this year, will boost our mental wellbeing. My wife and kids were also looking for an opportunity to break free from sitting at home,” Iqbal said.
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