The Al Sharqiyah region of Saudi Arabia is highly admired and known for its unique social connections. It is geographically adjacent to most Gulf countries, rich in cultural diversity and tradition, such as:

1)    Al Ghabga or Al Qirsh

A traditional gathering prior to or during Ramadan that brings together family and friends. The family gathers around sharing delicious dishes, and presently a new tradition was introduced that involves decorating homes with beautiful Ramadan decorations. The Ghabga is an event celebrated by adults, who attend wearing traditional outfits such as thobe or Jalabiya for ladies. It is also customary to bring along a small dish or Ramadan decoration.

2)    AlQergaia’an

A small celebration enjoyed by the young and the old throughout the month of Ramadan that isn’t limited to a specific date. Children are usually adorned with traditional clothing carrying handmade pouches that they carry with them on their stroll around the neighborhood in the evening going from door to door chanting traditional Qergaia’an songs. Neighbors hand out sweets and nuts and some homes prepare sweets and juices and childhood favorites, as well as leaving small notes with good wishes. The children return to their homes, where the family is gathered and some in al Sharqiyah hire small musical bands that play the drum and sing songs for children in the spirit of this celebration, and some families opt for prerecorded songs on YouTube. Some families will also hire a horse and carriage in a gesture to connect the old with the new and celebrate a history of rich traditions and culture and commemorate it with photographs.

3)    AlNaqhsa

The people of the Gulf enjoy sharing the Iftar meal with their neighbors, a custom practice across the Islamic communities across the globe. Neighbors usually expect (naghsa) food offerings, around shortly before the sunset prayer (Maghrib) or Taraweeh prayer. This is a symbol of sharing the blessings of an Iftar meal, the same name is given to what a traveler brings back from their trip for an individual or a group of people. The name is also tied to the Ramadan Naghsa, relating the food prepared at home, or traditional food and includes sending a full iftar meal course to a neighboring house or an expat. This is perceived as a symbol of mercy, connection, and social harmony within the Al Sharqiyah community.

4)    Henna on the eve of Eid

The fasting of the holy month of Ramadan is usually concluded by preparing for Eid Al Fitr. Henna hand drawings are some of the common traditions old and young ladies enjoy, the women usually come together to get beautiful henna designs drawn on the palms of the hands in preparation for the much-awaited Eid celebration. Henna designs are especially popular amongst the younger generations.

Have you experienced any of these traditions in other places?