Expats reminisce about good times during Eid festivities in Saudi Arabia

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Many of the fabrics and ready-made dresses are imported from the original countries, and businesses boom during such celebrations. (AN photo/Ameera Abid)
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Many of the fabrics and ready-made dresses are imported from the original countries, and businesses boom during such celebrations. (AN photo/Huda Bashatah)
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Many of the fabrics and ready-made dresses are imported from the original countries, and businesses boom during such celebrations. (AN photo/Huda Bashatah)
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Many of the fabrics and ready-made dresses are imported from the original countries, and businesses boom during such celebrations. (AN photo/Huda Bashatah)
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Many of the fabrics and ready-made dresses are imported from the original countries, and businesses boom during such celebrations. (AN photo/Huda Bashatah)
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Many of the fabrics and ready-made dresses are imported from the original countries, and businesses boom during such celebrations. (AN photo/Ameera Abid)
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Many of the fabrics and ready-made dresses are imported from the original countries, and businesses boom during such celebrations. (AN photo/Huda Bashatah)
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Many of the fabrics and ready-made dresses are imported from the original countries, and businesses boom during such celebrations. (AN photo/Ameera Abid)
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Many of the fabrics and ready-made dresses are imported from the original countries, and businesses boom during such celebrations. (AN photo/Huda Bashatah)
Updated 07 June 2019
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Expats reminisce about good times during Eid festivities in Saudi Arabia

  • For South Asian expats, Eid is a happy time for those with a sweet tooth

JEDDAH: Expatriates are enjoying a taste of both worlds as they celebrate Eid in the Kingdom, mixing the old with the new, and local Saudi flavors with those from their homeland.

For expats spending Ramadan in the Kingdom, many have their eyes set on Eid preparations at least 10 days in advance. With all the authoritative figures in the home equipping themselves with cleaning gear and readying the house for the holiday, decorations are hung, food is prepared in advance and gifts are wrapped.

Wajiha Fatima, 26, from India, told Arab News how her family home is decked out for the festive occasion, with members of the family contributing and banding together to help. “We start Eid preparations with cleaning and decorating the house followed by oud incense,” she said.

Bushra Khalid, an entrepreneur from Pakistan who was raised in Jeddah, told Arab News: “I prepare for Eid like all girls do; I bought a dress, got a new perfume, in addition to pampering myself at home before the big day,” she said.

BACKGROUND

• There were more than 12.5 million expatriates living in Saudi Arabia in 2018.

• Many of these have founded age-old communities who cater to their community by providing support and goods.

• Many families across Saudi Arabia use social media and other forms of audio and visual communication to keep in touch with families in their home countries.

• For Pakistanis and Indians, the time difference is two to three hours, allowing families to hold long video calls as they watch each others’ festivities, an interesting and convenient way which keeps bonds strong and lessens the burden of distance.

“Seeing how hot and humid the weather is in Jeddah, I had to get a dress that isn’t too heavy — the choice for a dress will of course be true to our culture,” she said.

For those from the South Asian region, Eid is a happy time for those with a sweet tooth.

Khalid told Arab News: “We stock up on a lot of sweets, buy all types of chocolate. In addition, we make a Pakistani sweet called sheer khurma following in the footsteps of our prophet who ate something sweet before performing the Eid prayer. As someone with a sweet tooth myself, this part is very important.”

“We make sheer khurma with milk, vermicelli and lots of nuts and dry fruits.”

Many families across Saudi Arabia use social media and other forms of audio and visual communication to keep in touch with families in their home countries. For Pakistanis and Indians, the time difference is two to three hours, allowing families to hold long video calls as they watch each others’ festivities, an interesting and convenient way which keeps bonds strong and lessens the burden of distance. 

Many of the fabrics and ready-made dresses are imported from the original countries, and businesses boom during such celebrations. (AN photo/Huda Bashatah)

For the handful of clothes stores catering for South Asians, Eid brings business and new opportunities to shop owners, as people rush to buy their dresses and accessories as they would do at home. 

According to Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Statistics, there were more than 12.5 million expatriates living in Saudi Arabia in 2018. Many of these have founded age-old communities who cater to their community by providing support and goods.

Anas Mehmood, a Pakistani shopkeeper, told Arab News: “We have introduced more brands from Pakistan this Eid, focusing mostly on partywear. I have been so busy that I haven’t been able to shop for myself.” 

Many of the fabrics and ready-made dresses are imported from the original countries, and businesses boom during such celebrations.

Ahtisham Shahzad, who has been working in Jeddah for eight years, told Arab News how excited he is to see his family, who are living in Makkah. He is reconnecting with his family and getting a taste of home, reminiscing about good times spent with friends and family at special occasions. 

“My older brother and I live here in Jeddah as the rest of my family are in Makkah,” he said. “I can’t wait to spend my Eid with them.”


Innovative Saudi cultural center showcases world-famous ‘The Scream’ artist’s exhibition

Updated 26 June 2019
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Innovative Saudi cultural center showcases world-famous ‘The Scream’ artist’s exhibition

  • 40 works by Edvard Munch go on display for first time in Middle East

DHAHRAN: A dynamic Saudi cultural center is to showcase the works of one of the world’s most famous painters in an exhibition-first for the Middle East.

Forty pieces by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, best known for his iconic “The Scream” painting, will go on public display at the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra).

The special exhibition, titled “Landscapes of the Soul,” is the latest in a series of high-profile cultural events to be staged at the showpiece exhibition in Dhahran.

Developed by Saudi Aramco with the aim of stimulating knowledge, creativity and cross-cultural engagement, Ithra’s theater, museum, exhibition hall and art gallery complex forms a key part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan to promote culture and entertainment.

The Munch exhibition, which runs until Sept. 3, portrays the artist’s personal life experiences of misery, love, despair, loneliness and reflections of the soul, through his distinctive works.

“It is such an honor to host and introduce to Saudi Arabia, and indeed, the Middle East, the work of the world-renowned artist Edvard Munch,” Rania Biltagi, Ithra’s head of communications and partnership, told Arab News.

Munch’s (1863-1944) original exhibition has been located in Oslo, Norway since 1963, and the Saudi display is being staged in Ithra’s Great Hall in partnership with the Munch Museum in Norway.

As well as a lithograph version of his most famous painting “The Scream,” other works on show will include “Summer Night. The Voice,” 1894, “Self-Portrait,” 1895, and “The Sick Child,” 1896.

“A moment that stood out from the opening was when speaking to a couple visiting the exhibit, they mentioned that they were Norwegian and working in Saudi,” Biltagi said. “They explained that they had never had the chance to visit the Munch Museum in their homeland and what an unexpected pleasure it was to be able to see Munch’s work in Saudi.”

Biltagi added that the event epitomized the aim of Ithra in providing a platform to bring together cultures as well as people.

The center, featured in Time magazine’s list of the world’s top 100 places to visit, is a pioneer on the Kingdom’s culture and arts scene, organizing a variety of events, performances, programs and experiences to suit all ages and backgrounds. Previous exhibitions have included a focus on Saudi contemporary art, Leonardo da Vinci, and installations symbolizing creativity and innovation.