Official and popular celebrations marking Eid al-Adha returned to public squares in the Hadramaut provincial capital of al-Mukalla, as residents celebrated the holiday and the removal of al-Qaeda from the city.
Celebrations like Eid al-Adha had been absent from the southern port city during the year that al-Qaeda was in control, residents said, but since Yemeni and coalition forces drove the group from the city in April, normal life has begun to return.
"Eid al-Adha is two holidays in one for the people of al-Mukalla and all Hadramoutis, as life is back to normal after the defeat and expulsion of al-Qaeda from the city," said Hadramaut province undersecretary Mohammed al-Amoudi.
Hadramaut leaders "devoted special attention to the city of al-Mukalla to bring joy to its people, ensure their security while they celebrate Eid al-Adha and take care of service-related aspects to restore the city's splendour", he told Al-Mashareq.
Al-Mukalla residents were in need of joy, he said, after suicide attacks on June 27th and during Eid al-Fitr in July killed and wounded dozens of people.
Local authorities rolled out a comprehensive plan to secure the Eid celebrations, al-Mukalla directorate head Abdel Baqi al-Hothari told Al-Mashareq.
This included the return of lighting to streets, public squares, parks and gardens, and the resumption of electricity, water and sanitation services, he said, adding that a street cleaning campaign was conducted to remove accumulated trash.
The local authority also carried out a project to repair the city's pothole-riddled streets, landmarks and decorative lighting at major intersections, he added.
"The youth organised neighbourhood lighting campaigns with lanterns and accessories supplied by the local authority, and hotel owners took the initiative of lighting up their buildings to help decorate the city," al-Hothari said.
"Eid celebrations in al-Mukalla begin immediately after the Eid prayer, with the military band marching through some of al-Mukalla’s streets, followed by a group of al-Mukalla’s youth in uniform," he said.
Meanwhile, 20 traditional folklore groups liven up the days and nights of Eid in the city with performances in public squares, the bay area and near shopping malls where people gather on festive occasions, he added.
Ensuring the security of these celebrations is of paramount importance, al-Hothari said.
This task has been "successfully undertaken by the elite forces and the army in co-operation with Arab coalition forces", he said, noting that there have been no acts of terrorism during the period between Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.
"Eid al-Fitr was a sad occasion for the people of al-Mukalla because of the terrorist suicide bombings that targeted certain areas and claimed the lives of dozens of innocent people," al-Hothari said.
His own family was not spared, he said, "as we lost a young girl who was delivering iftar food to soldiers when a suicide bombing that targeted the soldiers took place".
Private sector worker Salem Abdel Baqi told Al-Mashareq he hopes "the days of the Eid pass peacefully and safely for the people of al-Mukalla".
"People did not feel the [spirit] or joy of the Eids that passed while al-Qaeda was in control of the city, but rather stayed in their homes for fear of the actions of the group’s elements who had a tight grip on all aspects of life," he said.
This included restrictive measures in the markets that infringed on the personal freedoms of vendors and shoppers, he explained.
"Al-Mukalla these days is different, and this Eid is different," he added.