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Eid Al Adha

Eid Al Adha 2017 and 2018

Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) is one of the most festive days on the Muslim calendar and is celebrated all over the Muslim world.

YearDateDayHoliday
20171 Sep to 3 SepFri to SunEid Al Adha *
201821 Aug to 23 AugTue to ThuEid Al Adha *

* Subject to changes.

In the UAE, as in many Muslim countries, Eid al-Adha is a time of family reunions, feasting, and religious devotion. Considering that eid means “solemn festival,” it is not surprising that Eid al-Adha has a distinctly religiousness to it, with morning prayers at the mosque, listening to a sermon on the importance of sacrifice, wearing new clothes, and animal sacrifice (called qurbani) constituting a major part of how it is observed.

Eid al-Adha generally lasts for four days straight, beginning on the 10th day of the Islamic month Dhul Hijja. Also note that the exact date is never set in stone until a government moon-sighting committee officially declares it.

Eid al-Adha commemorates the Quranic account of Ibrahim unquestioningly offering up Ishmael on Mount Moriah in obedience to Allah’s command. Allah then sends an angel to stop the sacrifice short, allowing Ishmael to live, and assures Ibrahim that his sacrifice “has already been accepted.”

Muslims who can afford it, both in the UAE and elsewhere, often go on pilgrimage to Mecca at this time of year to take part in symbolic remembrances of Ibrahim’s sacrifice. Others, however, sacrifice an animal in their home country, usually a cow but sometimes a camel, sheep, goat, or ram. Sacrificial animals must meet halal standards, be the best the owner has to offer, and pass inspection by religious authorities. In the UAE, for health reasons, it is illegal to sacrifice animals at home or in public. Instead, they must be taken to one of the nation’s four official slaughter houses.

For those who do not own flocks and cannot afford to buy a sacrificial animal on their own, family and group purchases are common. The meat from the sacrificed animal is traditionally divided into three parts. A third is kept by the family, a third is given to friends and relatives, and a third is donated to the poor.

Tourists in the UAE during Eid al-Adha will notice the crowding around mosques, slaughterhouses, and other locations, but they will also notice that a large slice of the population is absent. Many travel to Mecca, to Oman, or to other regions during Eid al-Adha. Many businesses will be closed or operate on a reduced schedule, and workers have paid days off.

For those who remain in the UAE during Eid al-Adha, there are many events and activities to attend, however. Three such events the tourist may be interested in are:

  • Dubai Music Week. This is a five-day music convention at the Dubai World Trade Center. There are celebrity singers and speakers, an “entertainment village,” and four music concerts, covering such genres as rock and pop. Some music is even in Arabic and Latin.
  • The Arabian Nights dramatic performance at the Mall of the Emirates. Characters like Aladdin and Ali Baba are brought to life through plays, singing, dancing, and puppet shows. Children will enjoy this event as much as do adults.
  • The Spartan Arabia Race. Those who pre-register can take part in this five to 20 kilometer race, obstacle course, and scenic wildlife tour all wrapped into one. There are three levels for adults as well as a kids version. The race begins in Dubai.

Those visiting the UAE during Eid al-Adha weekend will find a mix of religious fervour and pure entertainment surrounds them. There will be plenty of events to choose from, and everyone can find something to enjoy and remember for years to come.