With the Eid al-Adha holiday fast approaching, several countries in the Arabian Gulf have urged their citizens and residents to adhere to coronavirus countermeasures and to follow regulations to prevent COVID-19 from spreading further.
Eid al-Adha, which is set to begin July 30 pending the sighting of the “shawwal” crescent moon, commemorates Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God. Muslims often celebrate the holiday with large feasts and family visits, which could cause the virus to spread between people.
As a precautionary measure, countries in the Arabian Gulf have urged the public to follow various health guidelines, with some taking a stricter approach by imposing a lockdown and banning large gatherings.
Eid al-Adha prayers in Saudi Arabia will only be performed in mosques and not out in the open. This is a change from the usual practice of mosques setting up areas outside their doors to accommodate for the large number of people who wish to perform the prayers.
Gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited, but the ministry warned against attending Eid gatherings. Face masks are mandatory when in public, and violators will be fined 1,000 Saudi riyals ($266).
Stores, restaurants, and other establishments that allow entry to visitors who are not wearing a face mask will also be fined 10,000 riyals.
No date has been set for the resumption of international flights to and from the Kingdom, the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) said last week.
However, land borders with the UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait reopened for Saudi Arabian nationals who wish to return to their home country.
Saudi Arabian citizens coming from those three Arabian Gulf countries will not need prior authorization. Domestic travel within the Kingdom resumed at the end of June after a three-month suspension.
United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates began gradually easing restrictions at the end of May and has since managed to keep the coronavirus infection rate relatively low, but some restrictions still apply for Eid al-Adha.
Eid al-Adha prayers in the UAE must be done at home, while the call to prayer will be broadcast via audio-visual means.
Individuals are encouraged to order animal sacrifice online and use virtual means to give children Eid money and gifts.
On the first day of Eid al-Adha, Muslims who can afford to buy a sheep are encouraged to slaughter the animal and donate one portion to those in need, another portion to friends and extended relatives, and keep the last portion for themselves and their family.
Commercial activities – including malls, sport facilities, gyms, public beaches, swimming pools, theme parks – are currently allowed across the country as long as precautionary measures are in place.
Everyone must wear a face mask in public at all times and ensure they maintain a two-meter distance from other people.
The UAE has set guidelines for travelers coming to Dubai starting from August 1, which includes having to present a negative PCR test.
According to the Dubai carrier Emirates, travelers from 29 countries required a coronavirus test before boarding the plane and again on arrival, while all other countries just required a test before boarding.
Kuwait is set to enter its “phase three” of coronavirus restrictions on July 28 and has since loosened several measures in place.
Mosques in the country will be open for Eid al-Adha prayers.
Hotels will be allowed to welcome visitors and taxis will be able to pick up passengers as of Tuesday.
Commercial flights are set to resume to Kuwait’s International Airport from August 1.
Flights will resume in three stages, with 30 percent of flights allowed to operate in the first stage.
Curfew hours in Kuwait were also shortened last week and will now be from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m.
The country also issued a set of guidelines for arriving and departing passengers, including ordering all arriving passengers to self-isolate for 14 days at home and requiring them to present a negative PCR test from a certified lab.
Oman imposed a nationwide lockdown from July 25 to August 8 ahead of the upcoming Muslim holiday to combat the recent surge in cases.
Between the hours of 7 p.m. and 6 a.m., no one will be allowed to leave their homes.
Eid prayers, going to Eid markets, visiting relatives, and group Eid celebrations have been banned until the end of the lockdown period. Travel between governorates has also been prohibited. All public spaces and shops will be closed.
Those who violate the curfew will be fined $260, Director General of Operations at the Royal Oman Police Brigadier Said al-Asmi told local media.
The country also issued a new set of travel guidelines for all arriving and departing passengers, including mandating a 14-day institutional quarantine for foreigners and requiring all arriving passengers to wear a tracking bracelet while isolating.
A limited number of mosques and Eid “musallas” – open spaces outside mosques – will be open during Eid al-Adha in Qatar, with strict restrictions in place.
Everyone is required to maintain social distancing practices and bring their own prayer mats. Social gatherings will be restricted to a maximum of 10 people when indoors and 30 people when outdoors.
During a gathering, individuals must wear a mask at all times and avoid any kind of physical contact, such as handshakes. The ministry urged the public to avoid going to the slaughterhouse during Eid and to use home delivery services instead.
Selected restaurants and malls will be permitted to open at a 50 percent capacity.
Mass gatherings in Bahrain during the Eid al-Adha holiday have been banned to avoid a surge in coronavirus cases, which the country witnessed during the previous Eid al-Fitr holiday.
Citizens and residents are urged to avoid family visits and to use social media platforms to exchange Eid greetings instead.
Everyone is encouraged to stay at home unless absolutely necessary and is urged to wear a face mask in public. Social distancing must be maintained at all times.
Gyms, outdoor playgrounds, and public swimming pools in Bahrain will remain closed until August 6. However, public beaches have reopened with strict guidelines including limiting groups to five people and requiring a two-meter distance between each person.
Entry to Bahrain is suspended for all nationalities, except Bahraini citizens and residents, GCC citizens, diplomats, passengers holding a valid e-visa prior to boarding, military personnel, airline crew, and holders of official, service, or UN passports.
Anyone who arrives in Bahrain will be required to undergo PCR testing and will have to self-quarantine for 10 days.