How Saudis celebrate Eid Al-Fitr with their own blend of beloved local traditions

Special How Saudis celebrate Eid Al-Fitr with their own blend of beloved local traditions
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Millions of Saudis celebrate Eid Al- Fitr every year, along with half a billion Muslims worldwide. (SPA)
Special How Saudis celebrate Eid Al-Fitr with their own blend of beloved local traditions
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Millions of Saudis celebrate Eid Al- Fitr every year, along with half a billion Muslims worldwide. (SPA)
Special How Saudis celebrate Eid Al-Fitr with their own blend of beloved local traditions
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Traditions and cultures have meshed to create something best suited for each community, distinguished by one common theme — celebration. (SPA)
Special How Saudis celebrate Eid Al-Fitr with their own blend of beloved local traditions
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Updated 22 April 2023
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How Saudis celebrate Eid Al-Fitr with their own blend of beloved local traditions

How Saudis celebrate Eid Al-Fitr with their own blend of beloved local traditions
  • The Kingdom is marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan with gifts, family gatherings, and worship
  • From brand new outfits to sumptuous meals, Saudis describe their own family traditions for Eid Al-Fitr

JEDDAH: With chocolates, sweets and gifts galore, Saudis are celebrating Eid Al-Fitr, reviving age-old traditions, renewing kinship, and reuniting with family and friends over elaborate festive gatherings marking the end of Ramadan.

More than a billion Muslims across the world are taking part in the annual celebration, which has been observed for more than 1,400 years. 

Eid Al-Fitr marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, during which Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, abstaining from food, water and other physical needs, focusing instead on prayer and supplication throughout the day. 




"Diriyah Gate" in Riyadh celebrates Eid Al-Fitr with its residents and visitors. (SPA)


The celebration, which signifies the breaking of the fast, is the first of two official festivals of Islam — the latter being Eid Al-Adha — and is a day of joy, thanksgiving, worship, brotherhood, solidarity and morality.

Similar to local Ramadan traditions, Eid Al-Fitr is marked differently across the world. Traditions and cultures have meshed to create something best suited for each community, distinguished by one common theme — celebration. 

In some regions, Eid Al-Fitr is an elaborate occasion. Instead of a single day of festivities, some cultures celebrate for as many as three or five days, with plenty of friends and family gatherings, gifts and eidiyas (envelopes containing money) distributed. 
 




Eid Al-Fitr is an opportunity for people across the Kingdom to enjoy themselves with family and friends after a month of fasting and prayer. (SPA)

Meanwhile, other cultures prefer a more subdued affair, focusing instead on close-knit family and friends. In Saudi Arabia, many choose to go all-out. 

In the final days of Ramadan, shoppers anticipating Eid Al-Fitr celebrations rush out to buy last-minute outfits, gifts, decorations and sweets. A new outfit, in particular, is seen as an absolute must.

Thousands of shoppers crowd shopping malls and markets across the Kingdom in search of balloons, bargain buys and clothing, as it is considered sunnah (or tradition) for those celebrating to adorn themselves in their best.
 




Eid is also a time to shop, with markets across the Kingdom giving offering bargain buys. (SPA)

With the malls open almost around the clock during the final seven to 10 days of Ramadan, women head to the stores in search of the perfect outfit for the planned social gatherings.

As for the men, the hunt is on for the perfectly tailored thobe with a matching ghutra or shemagh (headdress). Final touches often include cufflinks, shoes, slippers or vests.

“As kids, we were innocent and didn’t demand much,” Rehaf A. from Madinah told Arab News, remembering Eid celebrations while growing up. “If I wore the same dress as my cousin, we would act like twins and have fun. 
 




Young boys shop for new attire at a mall in Riyadh. (SPA)

“Today, I still find the same outfits as my cousin, as the options are usually very limited when shopping at the last minute. I made the same mistake, year in and year out. But a trip to Italy earlier this year allowed me to shop, so I had no excuse.”

She recalled scenes from early Eid prayers at Madinah’s holy mosque, with everyone decked out smartly in new thobes and dresses, and a few people dressed the same. “Last-minute shoppers — it can’t be helped,” she added.
 




Eid is an exciting time for adults and children alike, who receive treats and sweets. (Supplied)

Although new clothes and glitzy gatherings are a highlight of the festival, it is the first hours of the day following early morning Eid prayers that are the most profound for many. 

Others savor that first sip of coffee and a return to their usual morning routines after a month-long fast.

For Saudis, it all starts when the crescent moon of Shawwal (the 10th month in the Islamic calendar) is observed. 
 




A Saudi man joins a group at an observation site on April 20, 2023, in search for the crescent moon, which would signal the start of Eid. (SPA)

At around 5 a.m., after Fajr prayers, the rituals of Eid prayer begin. The actual Eid prayers are conducted a little after sunrise. 

The mosques will be filled with people of all ages, and nearby plazas — and sometimes even pavements and car parks — will be prepared with carpets to cater for the large number of worshippers.

After the Eid prayer is over, people greet each other at the mosque, saying “Kul Aam wa Antum Bekhair,” which means “May you be well and blessed every year,” or Eid Mubarak, meaning blessed festival. 

When leaving the mosque and prayer areas, many people take a different path home to the one by which they arrived, a tradition said to date back to the Prophet Muhammad.
 




Families flock to attend Eid activities in the northern province of Hail on Friday. (SPA)

In family homes, the scent of burning bakhoor incense fills the air, with some playing Umm Kulthum’s epic song “Ya Leilet El Eid” on loudspeakers — a tradition on the night before Eid for many. 

Lanterns and decorations are hung, dishes and coffee cups arranged, and clothes ironed and fragranced with favorite perfumes.

“Every family has their own traditions, each one unique,” Sameera Hammad, a caterer based in Jeddah, told Arab News. “In some households, cheese platters and bread are placed neatly next to traditional dishes to accommodate every person’s taste. 
 




Eid is an exciting time for adults and children alike, who receive treats and sweets. (SPA)

“But one thing you’ll always find in common is breaking bread together. It’s the good food mixed with smiles and laughter that matters most, reliving traditions passed on by an earlier generation that might now be with them today.

“It’s that beautiful mix of new and old traditions that keep them alive.” 

No Eid would be complete without plates of chocolates, maamoul pastries stuffed with dates, and sweets presented to guests, while children wait impatiently for money and gifts. 




To many Saudis, no Eid would be complete without chocolates, maamoul pastries stuffed with dates, and sweets. (SPA)

“You could sense the urgency in their movements. It’s the best part of every gathering,” Maher Bahamdain from Jeddah told Arab News. 

“As the youngest uncle, I get to sit and watch them squirm as they peek at the little envelopes of cash in my pocket. It’s a fun-uncle thing. Innocent bribes are involved, but soon forgotten. I blame the sugar rush.

“The nieces, nephews and younger cousins all line up in front of every adult and wait for the magic word, and a flurry of frilly dresses and flying white thobes jump from one person to the next. It’s the best part of the day.”




Eid is an exciting time for adults and children alike, who receive treats and sweets. (Supplied)

Although a shared breakfast is one of the most common events during the first day of Eid Al-Fitr, sumptuous lunches and dinners are popular, too. Restaurants and cafes prepare for the Eid rush with meal offers.

But “nothing beats a family gathering dressed in your best at home,” said Rehaf. 

For families planning to celebrate outside the home, the Saudi Ministry of Culture and General Entertainment Authority has launched an Eid festivity calendar filled with firework displays, musical performances, comedy shows and plays.

There is something for everyone this Eid Al-Fitr in Saudi Arabia. 

 


GCC, Uzbek officials meet ahead of ministerial meeting

GCC head, Jasem Albudaiwi, is pictured with Uzbekistan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Bakhtiyor Saidov in the capital Tashkent.
GCC head, Jasem Albudaiwi, is pictured with Uzbekistan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Bakhtiyor Saidov in the capital Tashkent.
Updated 14 April 2024
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GCC, Uzbek officials meet ahead of ministerial meeting

GCC head, Jasem Albudaiwi, is pictured with Uzbekistan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Bakhtiyor Saidov in the capital Tashkent.
  • Officials discussed preparations for the second ministerial meeting of the Strategic Dialogue between the GCC and Central Asian countries

RIYADH: The secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Jasem Albudaiwi, met Uzbekistan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Bakhtiyor Saidov in the capital Tashkent on Sunday.

During the meeting, they discussed preparations for the second ministerial meeting of the Strategic Dialogue between the GCC and Central Asian countries.

The meeting, scheduled to be held on April 15 in Tashkent, will gather ministers of foreign affairs from the GCC and Central Asian countries.

Albudaiwi said GCC countries attach great importance to their relations with Central Asian nations, stressing that holding the joint ministerial meeting less than a year since their first summit is a testament to these countries’ keenness to advance relations at all levels and in all fields.

According to Albudaiwi, discussions are expected to focus on political coordination and collaboration in investment and economy, mainly digital economy, and green energy security and use.


Saudi officials attend meeting of auditors in Tanzania

The meeting was attended by Dr. Hussam bin Abdulmohsen Al-Anqari, the president of the General Auditing Bureau.
The meeting was attended by Dr. Hussam bin Abdulmohsen Al-Anqari, the president of the General Auditing Bureau.
Updated 14 April 2024
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Saudi officials attend meeting of auditors in Tanzania

The meeting was attended by Dr. Hussam bin Abdulmohsen Al-Anqari, the president of the General Auditing Bureau.
  • IIA is looking forward to expanding its work in developing professional standards and raising awareness of the roles of the internal audit profession

RIYADH: The board of directors at the Institute of Internal Auditors has convened its second meeting in Arusha, Tanzania, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

It was attended by Dr. Hussam bin Abdulmohsen Al-Anqari, the president of the General Auditing Bureau and chairman of the board of directors at the Saudi Institute of Internal Auditors, and other members of the board at the IIA.

The meeting looked at the notable activities of the current year and discussed agenda items. Several recommendations and decisions were made.

The body is looking forward to expanding its work in developing professional standards and raising awareness of the roles of the internal audit profession.

It aims to keep up with the world’s technical and professional advances, and progress the development of the profession and its practitioners.

It also bids to develop future strategies that will lead the field toward broader horizons in line with ongoing technological developments.

The IIA has served as the world’s premier professional reference for all aspects of the internal audit profession since its establishment in 1941.

Headquartered in Florida, the organization is tasked with providing comprehensive educational and professional development opportunities; establishing professional practice standards and guidelines; administering certification programs; conducting research; and disseminating and enhancing knowledge related to internal audit and its appropriate role in oversight, risk management, and governance for practitioners and stakeholders.


Pakistan PM receives MWL chief in Islamabad

Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif receives Muslim World League chief Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa in Islamabad.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif receives Muslim World League chief Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa in Islamabad.
Updated 14 April 2024
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Pakistan PM receives MWL chief in Islamabad

Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif receives Muslim World League chief Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa in Islamabad.
  • Pakistan attaches utmost importance to its strong relations with the Kingdom which are rooted in common faith and values, Sharif said
  • MWL chief also held talks with Qazi Faez Isa, chief justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan

RIYADH: Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif received Muslim World League chief Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa in Islamabad, Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.

Sharif commended the MWL’s “global efforts in unifying the words of scholars, clarifying the true message of Islam, and confronting Islamophobia,” the organization said.

The two officials discussed topics of common interest and Islamic-related work.

Pakistan attaches utmost importance to its strong relations with the Kingdom which are rooted in common faith and values, Sharif said.

He praised the league’s efforts to clarify the reality of Islam and confront Islamophobia, and stressed his country’s continued support for its efforts inside and outside Pakistan.

In a separate meeting during an official visit to Pakistan, the MWL chief also held talks with Qazi Faez Isa, chief justice of the Supreme Court. The two discussed several issues related to general constitutional principles and their subordinate legislation.


Swiss music to be highlighted at Riyadh concert

Swiss artists Marc Aymon and Milla Besson. (Supplied)
Swiss artists Marc Aymon and Milla Besson. (Supplied)
Updated 14 April 2024
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Swiss music to be highlighted at Riyadh concert

Swiss artists Marc Aymon and Milla Besson. (Supplied)
  • Marc Aymon and Milla Besson performing at event

RIYADH: The Swiss Embassy in Riyadh — in cooperation with the French Embassy and Alliance Francaise — is hosting a music concert on April 18 at the Cultural Palace in Riyadh’s Diplomatic Quarter. It aims to showcase French-language Swiss music through performances by Swiss artists Marc Aymon and Milla Besson.

Born in 1982 in Sion, Switzerland, Aymon has released four albums and his music has reached audiences across South America, Iran, the US, Africa, and the French-speaking world. Aymon has performed at various concerts and festivals, including the Paleo Festival in Nyon in 2006 and 2013.

Aymon and Besson recently gave an exclusive French-language interview to Arab News in which they told of their love of Swiss culture.

Aymon said: “It (Swiss culture) represents the authenticity of nature, elegance, precision, and quality.

“Swiss culture is inspiring just about everywhere. It’s a wonderful country to leave and return to. I believe in movement. I like to be a Swiss artist who arrives on time, who is very precise and fussy, but who doesn’t hesitate to change all the plans and go through the window when all the doors remain closed.”

His passion for music has been recognized on European and global stages. He added: “It’s a passion for memory, for archives, for the emotions we all share.

“I fell in love with an old song from 1890 and thought it was beautiful before I knew it was part of Switzerland's heritage.”

Aymon will be performing for the first time in Saudi Arabia with Besson.

He added: “We’re going to be playing in a magnificent auditorium, a very large room equipped with a great sound system.

“I’m looking forward to unplugging my guitar, in total acoustic mode, (and) asking people to stop filming us with their phones to experience a moment of disarming simplicity.”

Besson, who was born in 2000, is a Swiss singer-songwriter who has been collaborating and composing with singers Aymon and Jeremie Kisling, and the duo Aliose, since 2019.

She said: “We all have important encounters that shape our lives. Marc Aymon was the first person to take my music seriously, to see in me what I didn’t dare to see, and to offer me my first stages and studio experiences. He helped me to make my mark, to become solid and free artistically.

“This is my first time in Saudi Arabia and Riyadh. Like any first time there’s a certain mystery and excitement about it. I'm looking forward to discovering this new country, its people, and its culture.”

The concert takes place at 7:30 p.m. on April 18 and free tickets can be obtained from https://dqa-et.e-ticket.app/events/9bac8509-623a-4696-b0ee-e1f988982f2a.


UNICEF hails KSrelief’s role in advancing education in Yemen

UNICEF hails KSrelief’s role in advancing education in Yemen
Updated 14 April 2024
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UNICEF hails KSrelief’s role in advancing education in Yemen

UNICEF hails KSrelief’s role in advancing education in Yemen
  • Over 800,000 children thriving through Saudi educational support, reports UN fund

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia, through its aid agency KSrelief, has allocated $6.2 million to support approximately 827,000 children in Yemen, ensuring their access to quality education opportunities. This initiative was undertaken in collaboration with the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF.

UNICEF recently noted that the funding provided by KSrelief has facilitated access to public and private education for girls and boys from vulnerable groups, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Peter Hawkins, the fund’s representative to Yemen, said: “One in every four primary school-aged children in Yemen is currently out of school. Moreover, educational outcomes for those able to attend do not align with their age.

“Thanks to contributions from partners such as KSrelief, UNICEF continues to address the educational needs of vulnerable girls and boys in Yemen.”

The funding enabled over 527,000 children to participate in national final exams for the 2022-2023 academic year.

Additionally, 300,000 male and female students received school bags and recreational supplies, aimed at motivating them to return to school while alleviating the financial burden on their families.

Moreover, the Kingdom’s support through KSrelief has enhanced teaching and learning practices in classrooms by training 7,520 male and female teachers across 17 governorates.

Additionally, hygiene supplies were distributed to 71,956 children and 120 schools.

KSrelief’s assistance also facilitated UNICEF’s outreach to nearly 4.9 million individuals, including caregivers, through the implementation of five awareness campaigns. Outreach activities reached approximately 26,000 community leaders and officials, as well as 2,500 families.

KSrelief remains a steadfast partner of UNICEF, providing continuous funding for life-saving interventions that enable UNICEF to address the most critical needs of vulnerable children in Yemen, SPA stated.

Meanwhile, in Yemen’s Hajjah governorate, KSrelief’s mobile medical clinic rendered essential medical services to 2,072 beneficiaries in one month. The clinic’s diverse services included treating patients for epidemiological diseases, providing emergency care, and offering internal medicine and reproductive health services.

In the Saada governorate of Yemen, KSrelief’s ongoing projects aim to address the primary healthcare and water needs of displaced individuals in the Razih district. In one month, medical clinics operating under this initiative treated patients for various ailments, including epidemic diseases, emergencies, internal medicine issues, and reproductive health concerns.

The project also provided nursing services, surgical assistance, and medical referrals, alongside conducting waste disposal programs and supplying potable water to the district.