DUBAI, Oct. 16 (Xinhua) -- While hotels and shopping centers in Dubai cash in on this week's long public holiday, some citizens are complaining about the intense overcrowding and the inconvenient business standstill.
Tuesday marked the official Islamic holiday, the Feast of Sacrifice, also known as Eid Al-Adha in Arabic, and like all Gulf Arab countries public and private holidays in Dubai last for a week. Public offices, banks, and the stock market are closed, while shopping malls and amusement facilities remain open for 24 hours.
For Hamid S. this is good news. The young Indian salesman in his mid-twenties works at the consumer electronics chain PlugIns. "I have to work, while others got several days off, but I have no regrets. Sales for smart-phones and laptops are mushrooming and this boosts my monthly bonus," the expat from Hyderabad said with a smile.
No other metropolis in the Gulf region has as many malls as Dubai with its 2.5 million inhabitants, meaning that shopping is high on the agenda of Eid tourists.
Hamid added that he noticed more tourists from neighboring Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia or Qatar in Dubai's shopping malls than last year. These wealthy visitors are flocking to Dubai to avoid other traditional holiday destinations like Egypt or Lebanon which are both still wracked by political turmoil. So it's not an unusual sight to see Saudi families out together, usually comprised of a man wearing a white "Kandoora" accompanying his fully veiled wife who is carrying fashion bags and presents for their children.
Nevertheless, Dubai's overcrowded streets and shops are not to everybody's liking. Shawn, 38, is from Wales. He works as an interior designer in Dubai's neighboring Emirate Sharjah. He said that while he enjoyed his vacation day with family and friends in Dubai's popular Creek Park, he spent his evening in a nerve- racking traffic jam. "When we reached finally the Dubai Mall, our dinner reservation was cancelled because we were late, so we had no other choice then but to pass by the next fast-food outlet," he said.
"I regret I did not book a day or two in a hotel with my family. I spent two hours in a traffic jam," Shawn said. However, even public transportation in Dubai isn't a smooth ride. "The Dubai metro is too full, I do not understand why the Roads and Transport Authority won't add more trains," said Corazon, a mother of two from Bayombong in the Philippines. She added she didn't feel that her small children were secure in the over-crowded metro car which she took from Dubai-Deira to the Mall of the Emirates, the only shopping center in Arabia with an artificial ski slope.
Her friend Jane recounts another cumbersome problem with the holiday. "I am a self-employed photographer and my last client, a banker who needed portrait and outdoor pictures paid me by check shortly before Eid. But now, as the banks are closed for four days, I have to wait until next week for my check to clear and to get my money," she complained.
Despite this, money is flowing into the hotels and restaurants that are busy catering Eid guests and tourists. "We are fully booked these days and most of our guests are Gulf Arab visitors," said Rupprecht Queitsch, the general manager of the J. W. Marriott Marquis Dubai, which at 355 meters in height, is the world's tallest hotel.
While Dubai is proud to host around 10 million tourists per year, a figure which the government aims to double by 2020, many residents are hoping that the government will provide more streets, parking spaces and public transport systems. Engineer Ali from Karachi who lives in the Dubai Marina district said he needs only one hour to go by car from his garage to the main street, Sheikh Zayed Road.
There is also a glimmer of hope. "Construction of the city's first city tram, the Al-Sofouh tram, is going to be in front of my doorstep. It's nearly completed," Ali said. The 10.6 kilometer long tram track will connect the Marina district with the Mall of Emirates. "[I hope] next year's Feast of Sacrifice will be a feast for everybody and not just a sacrifice for residents like us," he said.
Unfortunately, the tram will not be operative for next year's Eid. Eid Al-Adha 2014 will fall on Oct. 4 but the Al-Sofouh tram will start transporting passengers from November 2014.