Muslim families in the UAE have one place in common even from days before Ramadan: the souqs and malls. They buy all items from household and kitchen utensils to spices, vegetables and oil in preparation for the whole month of Ramadan. All malls and shops are vibrant with buyers choosing the best deals and items for the holy month.
Syrian Nermen Al Jandali, along with his brother and sisters, was searching for a big “tangara”, a big pan for cooking rice and vegetable soup and boiling Arabic tea. “We have been here for 20 years. This time, we cannot spend Ramadan in Syria due to the ongoing political turmoil. We need to buy kitchen utensils to prepare food for Iftar where relatives and friends will come to join us.”
She said that they will also buy water melon, their main fruit for Iftar. “We also have dates. But to us, water melon is the main fruit as it is juicy.”
Safoora Mohteshun, 20, was in the mall just two days before Ramadan to buy vegetables and fruits and spices for the whole month. “I feel tired going out to shops during the fasting month. I prefer to buy the food supplies and the things to cook food for Iftar in advance,” she said.
Clair Ignatius, a Filipino working for seven years at the grocery section of a mall, said that there has been a sudden rush of customers days before Ramadan. “I have been in charge of weighing vegetables and spices here for seven years. Customers swarm the section so that I can hardly see the other side of the section due to the large crowd.”
In the kitchen and household item section of the malls, many could be seen carefully choosing utensils ranging from saucepans to food warmers.
Pakistani Mohammed Aslan, who has spent Ramadan in the UAE since arriving here three-and-a-half years ago, was seen checking on food warmers at a mall. “I need to buy food warmers for Iftar. I am buying only the most important utensils like big pans to cook sufficient amounts of food for myself and friends who join us for Iftar.” He also bought fruits, all sorts of meat and vegetables for one week’s Iftar. “What I buy now will be enough for one week’s supply,” he said.
Haris Kayale, Indian, 30, was looking for the best dates, fruits and nuts for the first week of Ramadan. “I am also buying items for snacks during Iftar,” he said.