Did Saudi spot the moon too soon?

With the UAE returning to work today (Sunday) following the Eid holidays, I’m hoping I’ll have better luck chasing some of my late payers for the bits and pieces of freelance work I’ve done lately.

I had a go at getting paid during Ramadan, the quiet month of fasting, during which workers enjoyed reduced hours, and was told, ‘Sorry we took three weeks to get back to you, everyone’s tired.’

Not surprising, I suppose. But now that it’s business as usual, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the staff at this particular company are in a more productive mood.

Eid, which marks the end of Ramadan, started last Tuesday, after the Moon-Sighting Committee spotted the new crescent moon.

Rather like Christmas or Thanksgiving, it’s a celebratory time for Muslims, with gifts, good food and family visits. Homes are decked out with lights and this year there were fireworks, concerts, carnivals and magic shows.

But, unlike British or American holidays, you never quite know when the days off are going to fall – because Islamic holidays such as Eid that are based on the sighting of the moon are not announced until the night before. Which is why towards the end of Ramadan you’ll find me and my friends gazing skywards going ‘C’mon moon! We know you’re there.’ For workers, you literally leave the office not knowing if you’ll be back the next day.

This year, Saudi Arabia announced the start of Eid at around 8.15pm on Monday evening, with the UAE following suit shortly after. Interestingly, though, there’s an unconfirmed rumour that the Saudis got the timing wrong. Some people are questioning whether the Saudi Moon-Sighting Committee in fact mistook Saturn for the crescent moon.

If this is true or not, I don’t know, as I also read that these days the calculations are done largely by computer, rather than by eye, and that neighbouring countries work together to agree on when holidays are declared. Whether Eid did kick off a day early or not, I hope all our Muslim friends enjoyed the festivities!

A treat for our taste buds
Over here in England, I’ve been in a celebratory mood, too, with the climax of my holiday – my oldest and dearest friend’s 40th birthday. She invited us to ‘tumble down the rabbit hole’ with her at a Mad Hatter’s tea party at a London hotel and I wanted to include a photo as it was truly a gastronomic adventure.

The hazelnut praline ice cream lollipops literally exploded in our mouths and the blueberry lollipops were designed to turn your tongue from hot to cold. But the best thing was the bizarre concoction in the enticing-looking bottle labelled ‘Drink Me’. Each sip actually delivered a totally different taste, starting with apple pie, then turning to lemon curd, and ending with English toffee.

We went from this wonderful potion to a cocktail-making lesson later, followed by cocktail drinking and merriment. A great night and a fantastic end to my English summer.

Back to the sandpit
Today I’m packing for sandier pastures and remembering how travel is so much easier if you’re five and don’t have to think about anything. BB appeared with the most enormous box of Lego, thinking it would miraculously transport itself back to Dubai. So I’ve given him his own suitcase to carry, which he WILL be responsible for!

Meanwhile, my mind is boggling at all the passports I’m juggling – look at this ridiculous number, and these are just mine and the kids’ (citizens of both the US and the UK). So if you hear about a tired-looking blonde with two small boys holding up the queue in the arrivals hall at Dubai airport tomorrow, that’ll be me.

One or two are expired but still have valid visas in them, so I need to keep tabs on the lot.