Eid al-Fitr spirit unbeatable despite economic strains in the region
BEIRUT - Ramadan ends in the first week of June with the sighting of the new moon, prompting celebrations by Muslims to mark Eid al-Fitr — the Feast of the Breaking of the Fast.
In the Arab region, people prepare for the Eid days, if not weeks, in advance.
“After a long month of fasting, celebrating the Eid is a joy though budget is tight this year,” said Jordanian accountant Omar Meqdadi. “Prices of food and clothes are high, despite sales and promotions. We will spend the holiday in Amman visiting relatives and might go to the Dead Sea for a day.”
Economic strain and dwindling purchasing power of Jordanians are strongly felt by traders. “Promotions are exceptional but no one is buying. We see people crowding the malls but the shops are empty,” lamented shop owner Ahmed Nimer.
Baghdadis, looking for bargains, crowd low-cost markets that stay open past midnight.
Samah Adel, a mother of four, said she spent hours combing the shelves at al Koukh outlet in search for affordable clothing. “For big families, preparing for the Eid is quite expensive. My children want to have new outfits to celebrate and here I find items that suit our limited budget,” Adel said. “We are doing whatever we can afford to bring smiles to their faces.”
Food stores are especially packed in the evening as the freshness of the night settles in and the city is more secure and stable, said Ahmad Sami, a cashier at a major store.
“Buyers come with different budgets but the majority have limited means. However, they all buy the basics to celebrate such as the special Eid sweets,” Sami said.
Egyptians are happy to celebrate the Eid in a more politically stable and secure situation. However, skyrocketing commodity prices are blemishing the occasion.
Sabah Mohamed said she had hoped to get new dresses for her two daughters but she ended up buying second-hand outfits. “Used clothes are much more affordable,” she said. “The girls were hoping to wear new dresses for the feast but this is apparently becoming a dream with prices going up dramatically.”
Shop owner Ahmed Fahim said he had not seen such recession in years. “Few clients are coming in and we cannot lower prices more than that or we would be losing capital,” he said.
Nonetheless, the spirit of the celebration is undefeatable. Amusement parks, cinemas, sports clubs and entertainment centres announced special programmes for the occasion, promising visitors leisurely activities that offer unique moments of quality time for the whole family.
Special VAT-free, 24-hour sales, non-stop family entertainment catering to various age groups and cultures have been lined up across the United Arab Emirates in anticipation of the Eid.
Many forms of entertainment are offered, including concerts and opera for adults and cultural-themed workshops at game parks and malls for children.
Late evening fireworks are previewed across various public locations, such as Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi and Dubai Festival City Mall where fireworks are accompanied by themed Arabic music, colourful fountains and laser lights.
Whatever their budget concerns, parents across the region share one thing in common: A desire to make their children happy during the days of the Eid.