I was not sure what to expect for our first Halloween in Dubai, UAE, which is an Islamic country. Halloween is, after all, a pagan holiday, when pagans believed that the boundary between the natural and supernatural disappeared for a night. With the advent of Christianity, the church tried to take attention away from these origins by naming the “Feast of All Saints” day close to Halloween. From the Islamic point of view, the traditions associated with Halloween (both pagan and Christian) are all forms of idolatry and that the fun and games are best saved for the Islamic holidays.
But there are many here who are not Muslim, and Halloween is everywhere in Downtown Dubai– much more pervasive than I thought that it would be. At my gym (Fitness First in Al Manzil) there are flashing lights and pumpkins, and my strength class even dressed up to workout (the instructor, Liz, is awesome and fun. Not sure how she led the class in a purple wig, but she managed….) Our Ace Hardware has aisle upon aisle of Christmas décor already – and a few aisles reserved for Halloween as well. It is not what I expected moving to a country in the Middle East, for sure.
Generally, however, children here do not go door to door asking for treats. Jimmy and I did not have to stock up on candy but we do have costumes “just in case”. Moving to Dubai has been an interesting study in the merger of cultures, for sure, and there are continual surprises. Dubai is an amazing multicultural mix that continually delights and surprises me.