SIDON, Lebanon: As the holiday marking the final day of Ramadan approached, Lebanese families in Sidon discussed plans for how to celebrate Eid with friends and family. Selecting traditional sweets for the Eid celebrations in the old souks of Sidon, Sanaa al-Nacouzi told The Daily Star that she and her family would pay a visit to her grandmother’s home, before going around to the rest of her family, who are scattered across the country. “Eid is a time for visiting loved ones, and it brings us all together,” she said.
Mohammad al-Habal also planned to spend the time off with relatives, traveling between his hometown of Sidon and his aunt’s house in Tripoli. “Of course, our financial situation doesn’t allow us to eat in restaurants or cafes,” he said. “We’ll eat together at home.”
His small son, Mahmoud, laughed, and joked that “the most important thing is that Dad gives us our Eid pocket money.”
Some people, like Yasser al-Masri, prefer to spend their time off work in a less traditional way. Before Ramadan, Masri visited Egypt’s famed Sharm el-Sheikh resort to practice his favorite hobbies, swimming and scuba diving.
Back in Lebanon, he planned to celebrate Eid with his family by visiting Sidon’s newly installed water park, where four civil jets and two military helicopters have been submerged into the sea at depths of 30 to 32 meters to form the largest reef in the Mediterranean basin. He said diving is the perfect Eid activity, because “it is a world away from the chaos and worries of everyday life.”
Kamel Kozbar was also looking for an escape from day-to-day stresses during the Eid period, with plans to travel to the northern Lebanese village of Ehden.
“I want to breathe the fresh air and unpolluted environment ... You really feel like you’re in an extraordinary Lebanese village up there,” he said.
Abbas Kharoubi, who hails from the Sidon village of Sarafand, instead had a thirst for city life and was planning to travel to the capital to spend the holiday.
“I love Beirut - it’s so beautiful, and I spend every Eid here,” he said.
Travel posters offering holiday trips within Lebanon and overseas for the Eid period were seen stuck to walls across the southern port city.
Mufid Farhat was looking forward to a trip to Turkey to visit tourist landmarks, such as the Bosphorous Strait, and relax by staying in hotels. Perhaps more important than the tourist attractions, Farhat said, is “enjoying your mornings in peace, without the tedium of the budget and the protests that accompanied them.”
Like Farhat, Nana Barda booked a trip abroad to Turkey for her whole family to celebrate the end of four weeks of fasting.
“It brings me such joy to be able to travel to Turkey for Eid, where the prices are cheaper,” she said, adding that she planned to buy sweets, clothes and medicine. However, the taste for travel during the holiday period is not limited to Lebanese nationals.
Amir Siyam, a Swiss national of Egyptian origin, said as he was touring the old souks at Sidon that he had “ a lot in Europe” and instead wanted to travel to the Middle East for Eid.
Out of all the countries in the Middle East and North Africa, Siyam and his fellow Swiss travel companions chose Lebanon in particular to enjoy the unique combination of mountain and beach life.
“We’ll have an amazing time, and the food here is great,” he said.