Last night, the crescent moon was spotted over Abu Dhabi, bringing an official end to this year’s holy month of Ramadan. Today was the first day of Eid al-Fitr, a three-day celebration and national holiday. (Eid means “festivity” in  Arabic, while Fi?r refers to the  “breaking” of the fast.) NYU Abu Dhabi is closed from now until the first day of classes, which is this Sunday. (Yours truly will be teaching in the very first time slot of the new term, bright and early at 8:30 a.m. Gulf Standard Time.)

During Ramadan in the UAE, the most common greeting is “Ramadan Kareem,” which means literally “Generous Ramadan” or roughy, “May your Ramadan be Bountiful.” In some countries, people say “Ramadan Mubarak,” instead, which means “Blessed Ramadan.” Here, it’s more typical to say “Eid Mubarak,” which is what the signs throughout the Marks & Spencer down the street were changed to this morning.

The exact timing of Eid Al Fitr is always a little uncertain, because it does depend on the sighting of the moon by official authorities. We didn’t know for sure until last night whether Eid would begin today or tomorrow. As a result, the folks at NYUAD’s student life office had to come up with a couple of different versions of the Marhaba Week schedule. Government ministries and other official offices in the UAE found a way of avoiding this difficulty: they simply gave their employees the entire week off!

Alas, no holiday celebrating (yet) for NYUAD’s Associate Dean of the Humanities, who found himself (and a surprising number of his colleagues) at the office this morning.

My children are delighted that they can now eat and drink during daylight hours in public. (Technically, given their ages, they were exempt from public fasting, but we wanted them to abstain anyway, out of respect for those around them who were fasting.) Of course, this public eating and drinking remains theoretical: it’s still quite hot outside, and the kids had no interest in venturing outside Sama Tower today, even if they could eat and drink. They were willing to go to the rooftop pool, however, which has been one of our staple activities during Ramadan. That and an inordinate amount of time spent in Lego Universe.

Tomorrow, perhaps, we will sally forth en famille! Eid Mubarak everyone!

(To get a sense of what Eid was like in Abu Dhabi today, read this article from