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'Arafat' Chips a Sellout in Egypt - 2002-05-31

There have already been songs and movies that champion the Palestinian cause, but now entrepreneurs in Egypt have found a new method.

Crunchy and cheese-flavored are words not usually associated with Yasser Arafat. Until now. New cheese-flavored chips, called "Abu Ammar," Mr. Arafat's nickname in the Arab world, are becoming very popular in Egypt.

Not only does "Abu Ammar" taste good, customers can tell themselves that each time they purchase a bag they are helping a good cause - the manufacturers of "Abu Ammar" say they are donating a percentage of the sales to the Palestinians.

Demand for "Abu Ammar" has reportedly outpaced another new brand, Hero, which hit the selves earlier this month. Like "Abu Ammar," Hero has a Palestinian theme. The bag shows a boy confronting an Israeli tank. In one hand, he is holding a stone, in the other a book.

But "Abu Ammar" boasts a picture of Mr. Arafat in his trademark fatigues and black-and-white checked headdress. He is saluting with one hand and holding a Palestinian flag in the other.

"Abu Ammar" is so new that it is not yet available in some areas of Cairo. Kamal Ibrahim, a vendor in the Dokki section of the city, is the only merchant on his street who carries it. He says the snack is popular, even though it is not advertised. " People become attracted to anything new in the market, and anything with a commercial, which "Abu Ammar" does not have, gets all the attention." he said. "But children like "Abu Ammar" and the Egyptian people like "Abu Ammar" very much.".

The maker of the chips, Al Jawara Company, says it donates about 5 U.S. cents to the Palestinian cause for every 50 packages sold.