Prior to the pandemic, Eid celebrations were marked by family gatherings where people used to enjoy traditional cuisines. However, now people have limited their visits and avoid large gatherings due to health concerns. (File photo)
Saudis ready to enjoy Eid Al-Fitr with health precautions in mind
COVID-19 pandemic may have muted celebrations but fails to dampen people’s spirit
Updated 8 min 33 sec ago
RIYADH: As many Muslims around the world eagerly await Eid Al-Fitr to celebrate with family and loved ones, Saudis have shared their annual routines on the festive occasion, which for many, are the best part of the whole celebration.
“I wait eagerly for Eid, and I always try a month before to go to the public and popular markets with my sons and daughters before the crowds to prepare for the occasion,” Husain Al-Anazi, a human resources operations supervisor, told Arab News. He buys whatever his family needs such as clothes, supplies and sweets.
On the Eid day, Al-Anazi goes to the mosque, where he performs the Eid prayer, and then returns home “I return to the parents, brothers and children. I greet my mother, sisters and children. Then I go to greet the elderly in their homes, especially my uncles, aunts and some of the elderly relatives,” he added.
After completing the morning tour, he returns home at noon to take a nap until the afternoon to catch up on sleep, since he is used to staying up late during Ramadan. He then goes to the majlis (sitting room for guests) in the afternoon and prepares tea and coffee for visitors.
In the evening, Al-Anazi goes to the meeting place of his relatives, where a special dinner for the family is held in either the house of the eldest relative or a separate rented location. Once the dinner wraps up, he goes to his friends on a break to greet them and play cards.
In the following days, he travels with friends to any place they decide to visit.
My favorite food during Eid is mansaf, a traditional Arab dish made of lamb cooked in a sauce of fermented dried yogurt, and served with rice.
As for Bandar Al-Ghayeb, a security worker at the Saudi Electricity Co., he rarely spends the whole Eid period with his family and relatives, as he works on a shift basis at the company.
He instead visits friends in the neighborhood, who prepare Eid meals (mostly grilled foods). “We don’t eat too much. We eat in a symbolic way, as if we are tasting food.”
Al-Ghayeb said that he also visits some relatives and other friends on the same day after taking a nap. Although he is usually physically exhausted, he feels psychologically comfortable, as it is a day where he is able to meet many people, including friends who he has not seen for years.
Al-Ghayeb is also keen to preserve the habit of “eidiya” every year, where children are gifted money by older members of the family.
The best moments of Eid for Saudi housewife Asmhan Al-Fuhaiqi are the morning of the first day, especially when she starts to put on new clothes.
“Performing Eid prayers has a special feeling. Then we meet together as family members at my father’s house, where we start distributing sweets to the guests,” she told Arab News.
Al-Fuhaiqi added the spirit of Eid shines through when groups begin to light fireworks in celebration.
“During Eid, I would be busy buying supplies, including clothes and accessories, and since I live in the town of Tayma, I cannot get everything I need, so I go with my family to the city of Tabuk (110 km away), which is the closest city to us” she said.
I go to greet the elderly in their homes, especially my uncles, aunts and some of the elderly relatives.
She added that one of the most difficult things to buy during Eid is clothing, as she has to ensure that the size fits so that she does not go all the way back to Tabuk.
On the night before Eid, she makes sweets and puts them in the reception room before dawn, and perfumes the house with incense and oud.
In the past, Al-Fuhaiqi was keen to go to the prayer hall next to the city, which feels “beautifully different,” however, the situation changed after the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, and she instead visits the nearby mosque.
The family then begins to receive guests in their home, distributing gifts to the children and supervising the fireworks. “Although it is risky, I feel that fireworks give a wonderful atmosphere for Eid, so I make sure that I am the one who lights the fireworks myself, not the children.”
She said that her favorite food during Eid is mansaf, a traditional Arab dish made of lamb cooked in a sauce of fermented dried yogurt, and served with rice or bulgur.
Saudi child Ruaa Radhi told Arab News that her mother bought her a dress and beautiful shoes a few days ago for Eid, and bought enough fireworks from the market for her and her brothers.
“On the first day of Eid Al-Fitr, we will meet with my grandmother at her house in the presence of my aunts who live in other cities, where we will have dinner together, which is a cooked lamb that my mother and aunts cook,” she said.
Radhi’s maternal uncles usually gift her toys and sweets for Eid every year. “They usually give us light footballs and balloons. Indeed, I will be very happy during Eid, because we visit many people, and many also visit us in a short period of time.”
Nayef Al-Moaini, a Saudi engineer at Ma’aden, said that, for him, the celebration of Eid starts the night before, when preparing the house is one of the most important parts of the annual celebration.
“Celebration of Eid Al-Fitr often includes holding banquets for several days to celebrate the visitors, including our relatives coming from outside the city,” he added.
The second day of Eid is a fixed day for Al-Moaini’s family feast, which includes his uncles, their children and his neighbors.
Eid shoppers urged to be wary of virus risk in Saudi Arabia
A Saudi ministry of Health spokesman noted that the fluctuating case numbers are a positive sign, but reiterated that the country is not in the clear just yet
Updated 3 min 50 sec ago
JEDDAH: As the daily number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Saudi Arabia continues to hover between 950 and 1,100, authorities are calling on residents to remain careful and vigilant as they prepare for Eid Al-Fitr.
With the holiday only a few days away, shoppers are urged to remain on high alert and choose online shopping rather than visiting packed malls. Warnings have been issued that store closures are imminent if commercial establishments fail to abide by the required health and safety precautions and ensure social distancing is maintained.
It comes after more than two weeks of rising numbers of infections during Ramadan to more than 1,000 a day, which authorities said is the result of people failing to follow rules on social distancing and gatherings.
On Monday, health authorities in the Kingdom recorded 986 new cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), meaning 427,370 people in the country have contracted the disease.
The highest number of new infections was in the Riyadh region with 339, followed by the Makkah region with 283, and the Eastern Province with 131. Only two regions reported single-digit increases: The Northern Borders, with eight, and Jouf, with five.
An additional 1,076 people have recovered, according to health authorities, raising the total number of recoveries to 410,816. This means the recovery rate in the Kingdom has increased slightly to 96.1 percent.
• Saudi Arabia recorded 986 new infections on Monday.
• 1,076 more people have recovered from the disease.
• The death toll rises to 7,085 with 13 new fatalities.
The number of active cases has been decreasing lately as recoveries increase. A Ministry of Health spokesman noted that the fluctuating case numbers are a positive sign, but reiterated that the country is not in the clear just yet. “The fluctuation could be an indicator that the cases are stabilizing,” he said on Sunday.
According to the figures announced on Monday, there are currently 9,469 active cases. Of these, 341 patients are in critical condition. Thirteen additional deaths related to COVID-19 were reported, raising the total to 7,085.
More than 10.6 million doses of COVID vaccines have been administered since vaccinations began in December. Nearly 31 percent of the Kingdom’s 34.8 million population have received at least one dose.
A total of 70,822 PCR tests for COVID-19 were carried out in the past 24 hours, raising the total number of tests in the Kingdom to nearly 17.6 million.
Saudi health clinics set up by the Ministry of Health as testing hubs or treatment centers have dealt with hundreds of thousands of people throughout the country since the start of the pandemic.
Saudi ‘edupreneur’ explores opportunities in Pakistan’s education sector
The current visit of the Pakistani premier to Saudi Arabia has opened many new opportunities between the two countries
Updated 19 min 20 sec ago
JEDDAH: A Saudi educationist has hailed growing public-private partnership ties in education between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
“Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have historically been like family to one another and education can be the common thread to stitch them closer,” said Omar Farooqui, founder of Coded Minds, a global ed-tech company.
He added: “Both countries have immense knowledge pools and research-driven institutions. Sharing of knowledge and formation of cross-border public-private partnerships can help implement modernization across both
nations in terms of bringing 21st-century quantum leaps in their respective ways of being.”
Farooqui, a Saudi national from Jeddah, has become the first-ever educationist in the Kingdom to invest in the private education system in Pakistan. His company, Coded Minds Pakistan, is set to provide STEM education to about 6 million students across the country.
The current visit of the Pakistani premier to Saudi Arabia has opened many new opportunities between the two countries. According to several sources, more than 30 public and private Saudi companies are keen to invest in Pakistan, including Saudi giants like Aramco, SABIC and ACWA Power.
However, Farooqui’s Coded Minds appears to be the only Saudi private venture investing in the Pakistani education sector.
So why Pakistan? Farooqui said that by directing a Saudi-owned global company, he has a first mover’s advantage in the Pakistani education sector.
“Pakistan has huge potential in all aspects of its business sector, but it remains an untapped market. It needs a first mover to take a chance on it, and education is one such sector, that through policy influence, can become a catalyst of change for a nation.”
Pakistan’s human capital and Saudi Arabia’s black gold might be combined and can have far-reaching consequences.
Omar Farooqui, Founder of Coded Minds
Farooqui added that he is among the “most fortunate” people that are living examples of the strong bonds between the two countries. “That’s why, I truly believe that education should always have been beyond boundaries by design, and it is something we practice every day on our platform.”
While noting the “new avatar of the Kingdom” and its growing relations with Pakistan — the second most populous Muslim country and fifth largest country in the world — Farooqui said that the world has “no choice but to take notice of the remarkable changes.”
He added: “The Kingdom has a young, hungry population that is by nature entrepreneurial and needs a platform to speak. Pakistan is the fifth largest country in the world and by natural selection relies on its human capital and large diaspora spread across the world that are willing and able to come back.
“Both in a way are intertwined in a revolution of sorts. Pakistani-Saudi brotherhood is a strategic wall that is crucial to the future of world trade.
“Pakistan’s human capital and Saudi Arabia’s black gold might be combined and can have far-reaching consequences. Pakistan can be a testing ground for significant breakthroughs in new-age technology as it becomes a marketplace of talent to tap into.”
Qatar’s emir arrives in Saudi Arabia on official visit
Updated 32 min 23 sec ago
JEDDAH: Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad arrived at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah on Monday, where he was received by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Press Agency reported.
The emir received an invitation from King Salman to visit the Kingdom end of last month, which was hand delivered by Foreign Minster Prince Faisal bin Farhan.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman receives call from Kuwait emir for Eid Al-Fitr
Updated 10 May 2021
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman received a phone call on Monday from Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, to extend greetings on the advent of the Muslim Eid Al-Fitr holiday.
The king reciprocated the sentiments, Saudi Press Agency reported.
Eid Al-Fitr, or Festival of Breaking the Fast, is celebrated by Muslims all over the world following the fasting month of Ramadan.