x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Abu Dhabi urges restraint at the shopping tills this Ramadan

As supermarkets stock up in anticipation of sales increases of as much as 50 per cent during the holy month, people are being asked to cut back on unnecessary spending splurges on foodstuffs.

People shopping ahead of Ramadan in Carrefour. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National
People shopping ahead of Ramadan in Carrefour. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National

ABU DHABI // Authorities have called on those fasting not to overspend on food this Ramadan, and to think of those more in need.

Supermarkets have been stocking up, anticipating sales rises of up to 50 per cent in the holy month.

But shoppers are being asked to cut back on unnecessary spending to avoid wasting food at a time when they should be thinking of those less well off.

"People need to first plan what they need and shop when they feel comfortable," said Mohammed Al Rayssi of the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority.

"Shopping in a hurried manner results in overspending. People who fast buy plenty of foodstuff that they are unable to accommodate in their refrigerators, and stock in separate containers under inappropriate temperatures, which leads to contaminations and health risks."

Those fasting should ask themselves if they really need the product before buying it, Mr Al Rayssi said.

He also warned against leaving food in places of high temperature, such as cars, for too long.

Some residents preparing to fast also called on fellow Muslims for restraint, in the spirit of Ramadan.

"The message of fasting is to feel the thirst and hunger so that one can reach to help those starving," said Mohammed Ansher, a senior banker at National Bank of Abu Dhabi.

"I try to restrain from buying unnecessary foodstuff so that commodities don't go to waste, and I ask my children to avoid wasting food.

"In my neighbourhood on Muroor Road we receive cooked food packets from Emiratis and eat only 10 to 20 per cent, while the rest is discarded. People must find needy people who are indeed in need and not distribute food packets indiscriminately."

Emirati college graduate Mishal Mohammed, from Al Wathba, wants fasters to observe the principles of Ramadan.

"When people go to malls they want to buy all the stuff," Mr Mohammed said. "But at the dinner table they drink a few beverages and taste others and get full. The leftovers are then wrapped and dumped.

"Ramadan does not teach us to waste but to feed those starving. I am determined not to do that and observe Ramadan in its true meaning and values."

Ramadan, which is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and involves a month of fasting in daylight hours, is expected to start on Tuesday evening.

It is a time of spiritual reflection, improvement and increased devotion to salat, or prayers.

Emirati Mohammed Al Bosaeedi, from Abu Dhabi, said widespread awareness campaigns, particularly after evening prayers, were needed.

Ras Al Khaimah Cooperative Society, which runs six supermarkets, registers a sales jump during Ramadan of almost 50 per cent.

"We have started getting customers in droves, which will continue until Eid. During this period sales jump up by 40 to 50 per cent," said Bahulbalu Bahuleyan, purchasing manager at the company.

"All preparations are in place and we have already stocked over 50 per cent more commodities for Ramadan."

The Abu Dhabi Cooperative Society, which runs 17 retail hypermarkets and supermarkets in the country, registers an increase in sales of 35 per cent.

"Ramadan is the main season for us, when there are holidays in schools and two celebrations - Ramadan and Eid," said Bejoy Pulicken, marketing and initiative manager at the coop. "So we want to cater to the need of our customers."

The co-op begins preparations for the season three to four months in advance to avoid any food shortages.

Spinneys, which has 47 outlets across the Emirates, has a charitable programme in place this year that will feed 3,000 people daily throughout the month, communications manager Colette Shannon said.

"We do not foresee any shortages. We do, however, see an increase in sales during the month as families come together and people entertain at home," Ms Shannon said.