How the Middle East Celebrated Christmas in Photos
By Sarah Zuhair
Christmas celebrations in the Middle East have a special taste this year; the Arab world has officially and publicly tried to recapture the festive atmosphere of Christmas this year in a way that reflects the peace, tranquility, and hope throughout the region. This festive atmosphere dominated the virtual world. As usual, during that time of the year, a lot of social media activists were keen to document Christmas celebrations on their personal profiles. These photos and videos were meant to show the world how they celebrated in different cities in the Arab world. Those include the UAE, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Bethlehem.
Bright flashes of lights and amazing decorations with an overdose amount of glitter Christmas were done right. Dubai has celebrated Christmas like no other at the Dubai Mall. One might not expect to find the world’s largest Christmas ornament in the Middle East, but the UAE managed to create one! It’s 6.5 m tall, 4.6 m wide, and 1.100kg in weight. It took a team of 15 people and two nights to assemble the ornament. It’s worth mentioning that because of it the country entered the Guinness World Record.
Social media was filled with video clips and pictures of the Christmas celebration in Syria’s major cities; Damascus and Aleppo. Christmas decorations illuminated the neighborhoods of the Aleppo Citadel in northern Syria and photos circulated on social media. If you walked around the citadel you would’ve been really astonished by the beautiful lights hanging from the top of the roofs and the restaurant terraces forming an unforgettable scenery.
The competition in Lebanon’s major cities rises each year, as they go over the top with their beautiful Christmas decorations, attracting more visitors to enjoy the atmosphere. Before the opening ceremony of the Christmas festival, the municipal council of the city approved a project to decorate Beirut’s main streets for a month. The New Year’s Eve ceremony was held at Al Najmah Square in downtown Beirut; about 100,000 people attended the event. Many children accompanied their families to the opening ceremony, which was opened with a fireworks display.
Also, the historic city of Byblos in north Beirut was the first city to start decorating a Christmas tree that’s considered the longest natural tree in Lebanon.
Christmas was different this year in Iraq. For the first time in seven years, Iraqis were able to properly celebrate Christmas in Mosul in large numbers. The churches are crowded with worshipers celebrating, and the officials’ efforts to secure the place were remarkable.
The city of Bethlehem in the West Bank has grabbed the attention of the world this year because of its huge Christmas celebration. It was revived in a mass attendance by a larger number of participants including foreign tourists from all around the world. Worshipers visited Bethlehem and lined up in front of the Church of the Nativity near a 16 m long Christmas tree. The decorations were full of lights and stars, and the bells rang amid a joyous celebration.