Soumicha Tinakicht, French
Since moving to Dubai last year to set up her own business, Soumicha Tinakicht has never felt so at home. The 42-year-old French entrepreneur, public speaker and author picks Dubai as her second home simply because ‘it’s just incredible’.
‘It’s a dream come true for me. When I was in Europe, I had the best jobs, I was earning money and I was really happy, but something was missing. Coming to Dubai is better because I can practice my religion freely here, while also having my own business,’ says Soumicha, who runs event management firm Tinakicht Group.
‘It’s beautiful to hear the Adhan (Muslim call to prayer) five times a day,’ she says.
Soumicha was born to Muslim parents in Algeria but was raised in France where her family of eight migrated when she was just a baby. Growing up, she was always aware of the charitable attitude of her family.
‘My mum is [very hospitable] often inviting people into our home for a meal.She always says if there is food for eight, there is food for ten. So we regularly had guests at home. She also loves sharing food with neighbours, particularly elderly neighbours who are living alone.’
For Soumicha, Eid Al Adha is a big celebration for her family. The day starts with an early morning prayer at the mosque and ends with a big dinner. ‘It’s a major gathering for families, and people prepare a variety of dishes. We slaughter a sheep. My parents buy halal meat from a particular butcher. There’s a big dinner,’ she says.
Everyone is welcome to the celebrations in each household. ‘Our doors are open and we invite as many people as the house can accommodate. Apart from lunch or dinner, we also offer a variety of cakes to our guests,’ she says.
Eid Al Adha is also a time for gift-giving. ‘We buy new clothes and gifts, especially for the children,’ she says.
The best gift she has received during Eid? ‘Money. I didn’t expect it at all, but I received quite a tidy amount from my family.’
In the UAE, Soumicha joins a cultural group or some friends for lunch or dinner. ‘Every year, we celebrate in different places. We bring along and share whatever we have prepared,’ she says. At home in Jumeirah, she likes making her favourite flat bread, kabuli, made of semolina, water and salt.
‘For me, Eid Al Adha is a symbol of giving, sharing and embracing our religion,’ she says.
Soumicha's special Eid recipe: Kabuli bread
Agus Abdulfatah, Indonesian
Since moving to Dubai from Abu Dhabi six months ago, Indonesian Muslim Agus Abdulfatah says he looks forward to spending time with his friends during Eid Al Adha.
Agus, a 47-year-old supervisor at Treppan Hotel & Suites, says that getting together with all his friends and family is often a challenge as not everyone would be off on the day. ‘But I look forward to a community Eid Al Adha celebration this time.’ The fact that a friend of his is a chef is an added advantage. ‘I have asked him to cook something special,’ he says.
But one food Agus misses is bakso. An Indonesian meatball, that is served by his family back in Indonesia.
Although Agus is away from his family, ‘they are never far from my thoughts’ he says. ‘I make sure to send them new clothes and money so they can celebrate Eid Al Adha nicely.’
How does he prepare for Eid Al Adha? ‘I buy new clothes, give zakat and speak with my relatives over the phone,’ he says. He plans to start the day by praying at a mosque in Production City and looks forward to a cookout with his friends.
While his Eid Al Adha in Dubai will be celebrated with a few friends, in Indonesia, he says, the day is celebrated with a big family gathering at his maternal house. ‘After the Eid prayers, the family gathers at our mother’s house to cook a variety of dishes and we all enjoy the meal together.’
‘We also have something like a carnival,’ he says, describing a costume parade in Indonesia.
‘But at the end of the day, Eid is a celebration of great moments and it deepens the bond between people.’
Agus' special Eid recipe: Bakso
Halima Han, Chinese
For Halima Han, Eid Al Adha is about celebrating with family. ‘We link with members of the family online and then organise Eid Al Adha gatherings,’ says the 35-year-old from Qinghai Province in northwest China who moved to Dubai five years ago with her family.
Halima, a Chinese-language teacher at the Chinese Islamic Cultural Centre, says that until a new mosque was built in International City, Chinese Muslims would usually frequent the Al Nahda mosque for prayers during Eid Al Adha.
With their new hub, Chinese Muslims now find it easier to plan Eid Al Adha celebrations as a community, she says.
‘We go as a group of up to 20 families, to a park or a public area where we can celebrate Eid and pray together.’
Food is shared during the community outing. ‘Each family brings a couple of dishes and we share the food – so we may have Chinese and Arabic cuisines, and even some biryani,’ she says, adding that she usually takes along noodles and beef or mutton dishes.
Games for children with prizes are also organised. ‘It’s a celebration for everyone, and we always have toys for the little ones,’ she says. ‘Sometimes we celebrate in friends’ homes. People love inviting guests over and they usually prepare a big meal,’ she says.
People also volunteer at the Islamic centre, which offers free Quran and Arabic classes for adults and children.
‘Our Chinese Muslim children gladly volunteer to help distribute food and water at the mosque,’ she says.
Halima's special Eid recipe: Chinese rice noodles
Griselda Tongol, Filipina
For Dubai-based expatriate Griselda Tongol, Eid Al Adha is a blessing to her mixed-race family. The 49-year-old Filipina has lived in the emirate for more than two decades with her Egyptian husband and their two children, and has embraced Islam wholeheartedly.
‘The UAE is the best place to live as a Muslim because you are surrounded by people who can help you strengthen your faith,’ she says.
Eid Al Adha for her is an ‘occasion of happiness because I am expecting the forgiveness of Allah’.
Her family believes in fasting ten days before Eid. The day starts with an early morning prayer at the mosque. ‘We wear new clothes, and we also give eidiya to the children,’ she says.
‘Quite like back in the Philippines, some children visit friends and neighbours to ask for pamasko (gifts),’ she says.
Women also treat themselves to henna. ‘It’s important to have henna on your hands. It’s kind of a tradition for my family.’
The family also pays for a sheep or goat to be slaughtered.
‘We keep a portion of the meat for ourselves, and the rest we distribute to neighbours and the needy.’
The day isn’t complete without a big family meal which would also include fattah.
‘After the prayers, the family and relatives sit down together for a meal. We also exchange gifts with each other,’ she says.
Griselda's special Eid recipe: Fattah