News / Middle East

Middle East Heat, Economy Make Ramadan Challenging

Multimedia

Audio

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is due to begin Wednesday across much of the Middle East and families are feverishly preparing for the event.  However, economic troubles and an unusually hot summer are expected to make the annual event something of an ordeal for many this year.

Housewives crowded the cooperative supermarket in Cairo's Dokki neighborhood Tuesday as they bought fruits, nuts, beans, rice and other foodstuffs to make copious Ramadan meals to break the fast at sunset.

Wafaa, a smiling housewife with her 8-year-old son Gamal in tow, complains that inflation is making many traditional foods unaffordable for the masses, this year, but that those who can afford it are donating bags of groceries to the poor.

"Many, many families can't buy meat," Wafaa said. "They will eat only fool [baked fava beans] - and maybe chicken. But me and my sister, we always buy bags of food and give it to poor people.  One bag for each family."

The nearby Qods supermarket has lined over 50 bags of Ramadan food packages in front of the store, ready to deliver to poor families in the neighborhood.  When Ramadan begins, long tables of evening meals, or iftars, will also be set in many places for poor families to eat.

In Lebanon, traditional Ramadan tents are also being set up in many places for both the rich and poor to eat their meals after sunset and to spend their nights watching television or listening to music.

Tents for the poor, or Khaimat al-Kheir, are donated by the wealthy, says Mustapha, a young man who lives just outside of Beirut.

"Rich people help poor people by donating food and drinks at Ramadan's breaking fast time, which is sunset," Mustapha said. "They build tents, which are 'khaimat al-kheir,' to let these people eat and help them to break their fast.  Mainly it's soup with dates, with vegetables; sometimes they make rice; sometimes they make chickens."

Record heat this Ramadan has also raised fears that people who fast may be at greater risk of suffering from dehydration.

In Baghdad, the extreme heat this year has many families worried.  One Iraqi housewife, Umm Hussein, pleads with the government to provide more electricity to help families cope.

She says that everyone is pleading with the government and with God to help them find a solution to the electricity crisis, because the weather is extremely hot and everyone will be fasting.  She complains that it is unfair to give everyone only one hour of electricity every six hours.

In the Gaza Strip, many are angry that the enclave's only power plant has run out of fuel just before Ramadan.  People, like Abdul Rahman, also complain that they have no money for food.

He complains that the market is stocked with almost everything, but that many people cannot afford what they need because of the economic situation in the region.

With Ramadan set to begin Wednesday, many across the Arab world are concerned about poverty and the heat.  To ease the woes, religious leaders in the United Arab Emirates have issued an edict allowing workers to break their fast early if the heat is extremely bad.  Egypt's al Azhar University has also approved the ruling.

You May Like

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Peace Activists Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified border, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs