Emiratis celebrate Ramadan, exchange Eid greetings, virtually

Online marketing and sales are replacing customary shopping on eve of Eid al-Fitr.
Monday 18/05/2020
Customer wearing protective masks walk in nearly empty shopping mall in Dubai. (AFP)
Customer wearing protective masks walk in nearly empty shopping mall in Dubai. (AFP)

DUBAI--During each Ramadan season, Muslims in the UAE and throughout the world share age-old customs and traditions ahead of Eid al-Fitr, but this year they are compelled by the coronavirus pandemic to limit themselves to virtual celebrations and exchange of greetings.

For the first time, this year, UAE officials largely refrained from holding family council meetings ahead of the Eid al-Fitr holiday as it is customary.

Instead, live interactive meetings were put on through social media platforms, during which lecturers engaged with followers and answered questions on various topics.

Among the most prominent events that takes place each Ramadan in the UAE is the Dubai International Holy Qur’an Award, which hands out a prize for Qur’an memorisation from the government of Dubai.

Precautions. A worshipper prays near a mosque during the holy month of Ramadan, amid coronavirus  pandemic, in Dubai. (AFP)
Precautions. A worshipper prays near a mosque during the holy month of Ramadan, amid coronavirus  pandemic, in Dubai. (AFP)

This year’s event was cancelled, although several other Qur’an competitions were held virtually, such as the Maliha Holy Quran and Religious Chanting Award. The competitions’ organisers said that the virtual competitions drew a greater number of participants. This year, 3,394 entrants competed, compared to 1.932 last year.

Throughout the holy month, state officials usually hold meetings in their homes with journalists, public figures and citizens to listen and respond to public questions and concerns.

Many officials chose to cancel their councils this year, while others turned to virtual spaces. One of the most prominent councils this year was held by Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, chairman of Ajman Municipality and Planning Department.

“Ramadan councils are one of the most important rituals and spiritual customs in the month of great blessings, forgiveness, and mercy,” Sheikh Rashid said.

“Ramadan this year is exceptional, and all the council sessions are broadcast through YouTube and Zoom platform for video conferencing in compliance with the procedures for physical separation,” he added.

There will also be drastic changes to Eid al-Fitr celebrations this year. Instead of holding large family gatherings, many Emiratis will connect with each other through social media platforms.

On the eve of the holiday, streets are normally crowded with shoppers buying sweets and new clothes, but this year the streets and the stores are almost empty, and their doors are closed before 10pm due to the general curfew.

But stores, shopping centres and supermarkets have launched  online marketing  campaigns showcasing products that suit Ramadan and Eid, such as clothes, shoes, gifts, kits and sweets, through their websites inviting consumers to order and pay for their purchases via banking cards.

(With news agencies.)