Muslims across Saudi Arabia, gulf countries celebrate Eid-ul-Azha
Over a billion Muslims from around the world are celebrating Eid-ul-Azha, which is also known as the “Festival of the Sacrifice’.
In Saudi Arabia, tens of thousands of Muslims have arrived at Masjid-e-Nabvi and the Grand Mosque in Makkah for offering Eid-ul-Azha prayers.
The annual Islamic festival, which this year has begun on August 11, sees Muslims offer a sacrificial animal (typically a goat or a sheep) in gratitude for Allah’s blessings.
Eid-ul-Azha is named after the sacrificial ritual, one of the rites of the Haj in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, where more than two million Muslims from around the world have gathered for the annual occasion.
In the UAE, Eid-ul-Azha is being celebrated as a four-day public holiday, from Saturday (August 10) to Tuesday (August 13).
At this moment, Muslims visit each other’s homes for Eid greetings and for a variety of dining, entertainment and enjoyment.
In many countries, cattle markets and abattoirs have already prepared days in advance for the Eid rush to buy and sacrifice livestock.
Besides, it is considered as a common practice to gift some of the sacrificial meat, donate a part to charity and consume the rest at home.
The sacrificial rite is preceded by the Eid congregational prayer held in large numbers at mosques and open areas shortly after sunrise.
Pilgrimage is also the backbone of a Saudi plan to expand tourism under a drive to diversify the kingdom’s economy away from oil. The haj and year-round umrah generate billions of dollars in revenue from worshippers’ lodging, transport, fees and gifts.
Officials aim to increase the number of umrah and haj pilgrims to 15 million and 5 million respectively by 2020 and the umrah number to 30 million by 2030.