Giving eidiya persists as a tradition in the GCC

Updated 28 August 2013
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Giving eidiya persists as a tradition in the GCC

Distributing eidiya — money gifts to children during Eid — is a tradition throughout the GCC area. The amount differs from one family to another and some families do not only give children but the older generation as well.
Muslims start their Eid with a special prayer called Al-Mashhad. Families go to the nearest mosque and perform their prayers either indoors or outdoors. Traditional Muslims dress in their finest clothes usually newly bought or tailor-made especially for Eid.
“Eid prayer is the perfect opportunity for Muslims to ask Allah to accept our Ramadan fasting and thank him for Eid. We usually go in big groups to perform the prayer and bring our children along with us to share the happy moment,” said Mariam Mansi, a stay-at-home mother. “It is a beautiful scene where one can see a large number of people dressed in their best Eid clothing,” she added.
One of the most important Saudi traditions is Eid breakfast. Families gather with their nearest and dearest under one roof and eat traditional foods. “Usually the whole family meets at the grandfather’s house or at the eldest member of the family’s residency for Eid breakfast,” said 72-year-old Madiha Seif. “When I was younger we used to gather at my grandmother’s house. Now that I am the grandmother, all my grandchildren and my sister’s grandchildren visit me for Eid. We eat and talk for long hours,” she added.
Seif said after the breakfast and right before her guests leave, she starts distributing eidiya. “It is a long celebrated tradition where the older generation gives young ones money or expensive gifts, just like Christmas, only it is for Muslims,” she said. “One does not have to give a lot of money, I usually give SR100 for my grandchildren and SR500 for my children,” she added.
Eidiya are not only distributed after Eid breakfast. They can be given while going door-to-door to greet the neighbors and friends. Usually during Eid families are always ready to welcome family and friends anytime of the day where they pass by for a cup of Arabian coffee and chocolate. “We go around knocking on one door after the other to greet families and friends and celebrate Eid with them. You can always find them ready to welcome us with great hospitality,” said Nadia Abdulatif, a 39-year-old teacher. “Right before you leave, you will find your elder family member or friend giving your children an envelop with money or sometimes a golden coin,” she added.
Some Saudis also give eidiya for Eid Al-Adha, but they are most commonly given for Eid Al-Fitr.


West End theater turns migrant camp to get London audience talking

Updated 20 June 2018
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West End theater turns migrant camp to get London audience talking

  • The Playhouse Theatre in London’s West End aims to immerse the audience in the squalid camp in the northern French port city of Calais that inspired “The Jungle.”
  • The immersive play offers a glimpse into life in the camp, telling the story of asylum-seekers, people smugglers and charity workers who used to populate it.

LONDON: London theatergoers used to spectating in comfort are in for a rude awakening after the authors of a play swapped the traditional plush velvet seating for wooden benches and covered the floor with soil to simulate the feel of a migrant camp.
The Playhouse Theatre in London’s West End aims to immerse the audience in the squalid camp in the northern French port city of Calais that inspired “The Jungle,” whose authors hope their play will stoke debate about migration.
“People often hold strong opinions about this subject because it doesn’t seem to have any immediate answer,” said Joe Murphy, 27, who co-wrote the play.
“Discussion is the only think that is going to get us forward ... and hopefully this play can provide some of that space for debate,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview.
Co-author Joe Robertson said the pair had “tried to depict both the terrible conditions that existed in the Jungle camp, but also the hope that existed in that place.”
Up to 10,000 people seeking ways to reach Britain used to live in the giant slum before it was cleared by authorities in late 2016.
Immigration remains a major political issue across Europe, as well as in the United States, where the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant families at the Mexican border has caused an international outcry.
Several European leaders including those of France, Germany, Italy and Austria are to hold talks on Sunday to explore how to stop people from moving around the European Union after claiming asylum in one of the Mediterranean states of arrival.
Murphy and Robertson, 28, based the script on their experience as volunteers in Calais, where they ran a temporary theater within the camp.
The immersive play offers a glimpse into life in the camp, telling the story of asylum-seekers, people smugglers and charity workers who used to populate it.
“There were 25 different nationalities of people all forced to live side by side often on top of each other and the phenomenal story about that place was people did make an effort to come together,” said Robertson.
Theatre-goers are invited to seat at the tables of the camp’s makeshift Afghan café, where the action unfolds.
“The closer you are to the audience the better the message is delivered,” said actor Ammar Hajj Ahmad, who plays one of the leading characters.
Ahmad, from Syria, is one of many actors from a refugee background featured in the play. Several asylum-seekers the authors met in Calais are also part of the cast.
“I am proud of this, I love telling stories ... about the many people who lived in Calais,” said cast-member Mohamed Sarrar, a musician from Sudan who arrived in Britain two years ago.
The play, which premiered at another London theater The Young Vic, last year, runs from July 5 to November.