Arab world looks forward to Eid as Ramadan nears end

Sunday 03/07/2016
Children picking up toys at Charity Clothing Bank, ahead of Eid el-Fitr

BEIRUT - Despite the ills of war, terrorism and sagging economies, Muslims prepared to celebrate Eid el-Fitr, which ends the daily sunrise-to-sundown fast that marks the holy month of Ramadan.
The Eid festivities, which last several days, begin with the sight­ing of the new moon of the lunar month of Shawwal but prepara­tions start days ahead.
In Lebanon, sales and travel packages are promoted on radio and television and giant billboards. “Many families have made reser­vations to spend the Eid holidays abroad,” said a representative of Kurban Travel, one of Lebanon’s leading travel agencies.
Egypt’s mood is upbeat this Eid due to optimism that a period of unrest and terrorist attacks has come to an end. “This is all thanks to the hard work done by security agencies over the past few years,” said security expert Khaled Okasha.
Across the region, shops were packed with families continuing the Eid tradition of new clothes for children but many stated concern about prices.
Sami Hussein, a father of three who works with Egypt’s Health Ministry said it cost almost one-and-a-half times his monthly salary to outfit his children. “I had to buy on credit,” he said.
Short-stay apartments and hotels in Jeddah were almost fully booked ahead of an expected tourist influx.
Riyadh prepared for Eid with a festival in Qasr Al-Hokm, a public park in “Old Riyadh”. Poetry read­ings, traditional art and a visual presentation Memories of Riyadh were planned. Five-star hotels ad­vertised traditional Eid meals for families.
The mood was darker for millions of people affected by the Syrian war and the fight against Islamist mili­tants in Iraq. War-weary Syrians look to Eid to bring a lull in the fight­ing but economic issues — led by a rise in fuel prices and the knock-on effect on other goods — will keep celebrations relatively muted.
“Inflation has eaten up all our savings. My four children were looking forward to receiving new clothes,” said Allam Mohamad, a government employee.
Baghdad is trying to show a fes­tive mood despite fighting against the Islamic State north of Baghdad.
“No feast without new clothes and kelaj sweets,” said Baher Ka­zem, a shopkeeper in central Bagh­dad. “This year, the mood is dif­ferent. It is more joyful despite everything, at least in Baghdad.”
The Baghdad municipality de­clared entry to the city’s main amusement park will be free dur­ing the holidays and all rides half-price.