It's a strange thing, living in a place where people are in the midst of celebrations that have nothing to do with me. It also, for some reason, has conjured up some buried crankiness with those old farts back home who argue they should be able to wish anyone and everyone "Merry Christmas" this time of year, regardless of their religion. Lowell Green, I am talking to you, though even if you could hear me, I doubt you would stop bloviating long enough to listen. But then again, I'd happily take a "Happy Eid al Adha" today, so perhaps I should just let that go.
Today is the day in the UAE where Muslims slaughter a sheep or goat to commemorate Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son to God. (He didn't, actually, end up having to go through with it.) As pilgrims are climbing up Mount Arafah on the last leg of their haj journeys near Mina, Saudi Arabia, the streets of Abu Dhabi are dotted with frightened-looking livestock. (Or maybe, knowing their fate, that's just the way they look to me.) Most of each of them will be given to the poor - actually the formula is a third for the family, a third for friends and a third to the poor. People are suppose to go to municipal slaughter centres for this, but I have heard bloody tales of next door neighbours dispensing with such formalities. Another interesting point is that the children play with the goat or sheep, which is tied up outside their house, and do so knowing it will be slaughtered. Also, as today is also a day people gift each other with cash, there is a serious operation going down to stock ATMs with crisp bills.
Anyway, The National had a great page three article - by my fellow Canadian Jessica Hume - that I think really nicely sums up a lot of what is going on in the UAE today on a number of levels.