Eid al-Fitr is a special day among families and friends throughout the Islamic world. This two-to-three-day festival takes place immediately following the end of the month of Ramadan and is the most significant and joyous observance of the Islamic faith.
In essence, Eid al-Fitr presents the faithful with the opportunity to thank God for having been granted the strength and conviction to complete the obligatory fast and obey His commandments during the holy month of Ramadan. By having done so, Muslims rejoice in returning to a state of fitra (innocence/purity), having been pardoned of all their transgressions thus starting life anew.
As we prepare to welcome the holiest of months, here are the dates, public holidays and observances in welcoming and celebrating Eid al-Fitr 2021 in the UAE.
Eid al-Fitr dates and calendar 2021
Determining the date of the Eid al-Fitr depends on the sighting of the crescent moon (a day after the new moon). As such, the process of determining the date of the Eid al-Fitr can only be performed under the cover of night. Should the crescent moon not be spotted, Ramadan continues for another day.
This year, Eid al-Fitr in the UAE is expected to be upon us starting from the evening of 12 May and will last until 15 May 2021. As the day of Eid is expected to fall on a Thursday, this may mean a five-day Eid al-Fitr holiday for UAE residents. Please note that dates may vary and are subject to the sighting of the moon.
Eid holiday in the UAE
The Eid al-Fitr holidays for the UAE have officially been confirmed. The public sector will have its Eid holidays starting from the 29th day of Ramadan to the 3rd day of Shawwal according to the Islamic calendar. This translates to Tuesday, 11 May to Saturday, 15 May 2021. The approaching holidays will no doubt prompt UAE residents to take advantage of various Eid hotel stay offers this week.
The announcement made by the UAE authorities applies to both the public and private sectors and will still be subject to the sighting of the moon.
Eid al-Fitr in the UAE
In the days leading up to Eid al-Fitr, Emirati housewives dust and clean their houses. The day begins early with morning prayers, either at home or at a nearby mosque. At lunchtime, the Arabs feast on traditional dishes such as ouzi, chicken machboos, and desserts like luqaimat.
In the past, on the first day of Eid, Bedouin men would shoot their guns in the air as an expression of joy, and this tradition is still carried on in some parts of the country. Men also perform popular traditional dances, including Al Razfah.
Giving gifts and donations is also an indivisible part of the festival. For those looking to acquire gifts for their loved ones, Emiratis are accustomed to taking advantage of the Eid offers as they become available. Eid gift-giving is a tried and true tradition between Emirati families and friends as a sign of affection. Children are also given sweets, gifts or money as a token. It is also customary to give zakat al-Fitr to the needy so that everyone can celebrate the festival with gaiety.
As mandated by the Islamic faith, the Zakat al Fitr (Fitrana) must be completed prior to the morning Eid prayer. Those with the financial means of doing so must donate either money or items such as rice, barley, dates and other similar provisions. This mandatory donation must be distributed to the poor prior to the celebrations to ensure that all souls are able to enjoy a joyous holiday. For the year 2021, the amount of Fitrana in the UAE has been set to AED 20 per person.
Eid guidelines 2021
While the EId holidays are synonymous with togetherness and merry-making, in light of the pandemic the authorities have issued official guidelines to help keep families safe this Eid.
The Eid prayer will be limited to 15 minutes with the female prayer areas remain closed. Following the prayer, handshakes, hugs and kisses are forbidden. Worshippers are also not allowed to gather at the places of worship before or after the prayer.
Furthermore, Abu Dhabi has required citizens to abide by Covid-19 rules on gatherings during the Eid Al Fitr holidays. Up to 10 family members can attend gatherings and parties at homes in the capital, but they must wear face masks and remain at least two metres apart.
For Dubai, gatherings of more than five people are not allowed. All Emiratis are urged to adhere to social distancing measures, wear facemasks and avoid gatherings in public places, homes or private farms.