Eid Around the World: 5 Saudis tell us how they celebrate Eid al-Fitr

Eid Around the World: 5 Saudis tell us how they celebrate Eid al-Fitr

Whether they are celebrating at home or abroad, five accomplished Saudis talk traditions, loved ones, social gatherings, and dream destinations
20 March 24
Share

Living overseas doesn’t mean severing cultural ties or leaving beloved traditions behind.

To honour Eid al-Fitr and the festivities, we spoke to five Saudis to learn what this holy – and perhaps one of the most festive – time means to them, and how they will bee celebrating this year.

Spoiler alert: feasts, traditional sweets, and restaurant-hopping abound. 

Hatem Alakeel 

United Arab Emirates 

Award-winning designer Hatem Alakeel lives between two cities, Jeddah and Dubai. His audio-visual podcast, Gems of Arabia, aims to throw the spotlight on “all the hidden and shimmering gems of the Arab world.” The goal, he informs, is to have enriching conversations that bridge cultures. 

Eid is always about being around family, and, for Hatem, it’s very much about being in Jeddah, where he spent his childhood. “It’s that time of the year when everyone comes together and connects with family members, especially those you don’t get to see often enough. Eid brings everyone together. There is a sense of nostalgia and joy in the air, essentially after a long month of fasting,” says Hatem.  

“If I were to travel with family for Eid holidays, I would go to Mauritius. It is really quite beautiful and a great place to bring the family together: lots of greenery and beautiful beaches. An island getaway is a great destination for the family to bond with one another and remain unaffected by urban disruptions. Although I am a city boy, over the years, I have grown to further appreciate nature and wilderness,” adds the founder of Toby by Hatem Alakeel and Authenticite.  

Hatem looks forward to reuniting with his brother and nephew. “I’m hoping they will be home in Jeddah this Eid.” Many of his friends reside in the port city; with everyone busy at work, the talent hopes to be able to catch up with them. Restaurant hopping is on the cards, with contemporary eateries, Le Traiteur and MYAZŪ, to check out. “On the first day of Eid, people get together at home, while on the second, most people travel, so, I might pop to London afterwards.” 

@tobyhatemalakeel @gemsofarabia @authenticite.me


Nour Al Tamimi

Switzerland

Zurich-based Nour Al Tamimi is a life coach. The Nou Project, founded by her, featuring limited edition sneakers designed in collaboration with artists, garnered her a tribe of loyalists. She hopes to someday revive her brand, which was put on hold in the aftermath of the pandemic.  

Growing up, Nour’s most memorable Eid was a family trip to Al Khobar in Saudi, where they spent time with her maternal grandparents. “We celebrated Eid with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins from my maternal side. We also went to the Sunset Beach Resort Marina & Spa. It was such a beautiful time; I received a good amount of money from older members in the family.”  

She fondly recalls Eid celebrated in Riyadh two years ago. “We invited my dad’s extended family to join us for Eid lunch, and it was amazing to meet everyone and enjoy the feast after Ramadan.” Giving back to society and helping those less fortunate is a big part of why we practice Ramadan, points out Nour. “I associate Eid with counting our blessings, with family being the most important one. Family values are very prominent in the Arab world due to Islam.” 

A dream destination to spend Eid with family and friends is an easy pick, says Nour. “It would have to be the city where most of my relatives reside.” However, if she could travel to a faraway destination, she would choose to go on a safari somewhere in Africa. “I recently went to Namibia, and it was so magical. I would love to explore other parts of Africa such as Tanzania, Botswana, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Zambia, and see the animals in their natural habitat, witness the magical sunrises and sunsets, watch the shooting stars, and feel closer to nature.”  

She plans to travel back to Saudi during the end of Ramadan and spend Eid with her parents at home. “I hope we get to organise a family gathering. The older I grow, the more I appreciate spending Eid wherever my family is. I don’t take them for granted – after all, it is about spending time with those you love.” 

@thenouproject


Abdul Latif Alrashoudi

France 

Abdul Latif Alrashoudi, a surgeon-turned-patissier living in Paris, is the proud owner of LÂM, an artisanal bakery. Although a Saudi, Abdul Latif grew up immersed in Syrian culture; his mother has Syrian roots. “It had a big influence in our household and I experienced two different cultures, which was an amazing thing to have as I learned later in life,” he says.  

“My most memorable Eid was when I was five years old. My father hosted that year and invited his extended family. Our home was filled with uncles, aunts, and cousins, whom I’d never met until that day.”  

Now, Abdul Latif makes it a point to be home in Riyadh for Eid and observe traditions with family. “Although I live in Paris, I don’t think I could ever be disconnected from my roots; I am a Saudi boy and always will be,” says the baker. “In the past, I have spent a couple of Eids in Paris – I would get together with my Saudi friends for lunch or go on a picnic. The one thing I associate with Eid the most is the caramel fudge, or cow candy as it’s known in Saudi.”  

When it comes to an ideal Eid getaway, he says: “A dream destination to spend the festivities with family would be Jeddah. Eid in Jeddah is something else. This year is turning out to be very busy, I have a new bakery to take care of and plenty of work to do, but I do hope that I get some Saudi visitors at LÂM.” If you do swing by his spot, you might find black lemon, dates, za’atar, and saffron infused pastries and cakes. 

@lambakeryparis


Zainab Alebrahim  

Bahrain 

Zainab AlEbrahim’s unique concept, Cactus District, has taken the region by storm. The founder strives to curate luxury local and regional brands for seasonal pop-ups.  

Never one to miss out on Eid festivities, Zainab walks down memory lane. “Growing up, my Eid mornings were spent with my [late] paternal grandparents. They consisted of prayers, feasts, and family time. Relatives would come over, and together we’d prepare an indulgent Eid breakfast. Back then, I would lay the table. It used to be beautiful and cosy,” she reminisces.  

There’s this really huge energy around Eid, and she longs to spend it in Bahrain. “I grew up in Bahrain and there’s no place like home. I am planning to take a break from work and be with my family. I’ve been waiting for Ramadan for ages to pause for a bit and reset. Since most of my work involves travelling and socialising, I need to rejuvenate and take care of myself,” Zainab, who is also the co-founder of UP-SOCIETY, adds.  

To ease along the week amid a hectic schedule and unwind, she eats out with friends. “I also hang out with my fiancé at least once a week, as I love to spend quality time with him,” she says. Never one to miss out on family time, Zainab will head back to Bahrain this Eid. 

@cactusdistrict


Yasser Alomari

Saudi Arabia

Riyadh-based Yasser Alomari, who works in the private sector, is an award-winning freelance photographer. His portfolio includes landscapes, cityscapes, architecture, and sports. “Landscape photography is my favourite,” says Yasser, whose diverse works led him to bag the opportunity to cover one of the biggest events in the Kingdom, Riyadh Season 2024. 

For Yasser, all Eids have been “beautiful” and replete with “unforgettable memories.” Each year has brought in a different essence. “I associate Eid with joy, family and friends, and social gatherings. It’s that beautiful feeling after the holy month of Ramadan. The best place to spend the first day of Eid is in my country, enjoying its customs and traditions. I prefer travelling on the second and third days.”  

This year too, Yasser will spend the day with family and friends – and also visit relatives. Festive time is often marathon feast time, with cousins and relatives rustling up several traditional dishes. Often, they bring in delicious jareesh, made from rice and meat, or gursan, a national dish made with meat, vegetables, and paper-thin sheets of bread.  

“I certainly look forward to the festivities at the homes of friends and soaking up the joyous spirit of the occasion, while also creating lasting memories. My wife and I plan to travel during the holidays,” he adds. Yasser loves to travel to locales with natural beauty, and northern Italy is very much on his radar.