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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

Families look forward to UAE's Ramadan price cuts after an expensive year

Government-imposed reductions bring relief after VAT introduction and fizzy drinks tax

The price of staple goods such as rice as closely controlled during Ramadan. Antonie Robertson / The National
The price of staple goods such as rice as closely controlled during Ramadan. Antonie Robertson / The National

Families have endured an expensive few months following the introduction of VAT - now they're looking forward to prices being slashed under a directive from the government.

The Ministry of Economy said the cost of more than 10,000 food products will be cut by 25 to 50 per cent in about 600 outlets across the country before Ramadan starts.

“The discount will give the opportunity for many people to buy what they need in Ramadan, as so many can’t afford to buy as much as we'd like since VAT came in,” said Hanan Wehbe, a 35-year-old Palestinian mother of three living in Abu Dhabi.

“We've had to cut back on buying lots of products and find cheaper alternatives in order to cover all our needs."

Ms Wehbe has a budget of about Dh1,700 per month to spend on groceries.

“We buy the meat and poultry once in the month, divide it into smaller portions and freeze them for the whole month. We can’t spend more than Dh1,700 per month so we had to cut the expenses after VAT came in, and will stick to the same amount during the whole month,” said Ms Wehbe.

UMM AL QUWAIN, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, 09 JULY 2014. Stock photography of Lulu Supermarket in Umm Al Quwain for consumer products. Prices of certain items are locked during Ramadan and for Eid. Produce, rice, fruit and vegetables. (Photo: Antonie Robertson/ The National) Journalist: Stock. Section: National
A supermarket worker stocks up goods in Lulu in Umm Al Quwain. Antonie Robertson / The National

A 36-year-old Emirati mother of five said that Ramadan is also an expensive time when many must entertain friends and family.

“A discount on food products will definitely help as we cook different meals every day," said Salimah Al Yamahi from Fujairah.

“Ramadan needs a special budget, we spend around Dh3,500 on food each month and that amount will double during Ramadan."

Dr Hashim Al Nuaimi, director of consumer protection at the ministry, said it has made arrangements with major outlets and cooperatives around the country to ensure staple goods are affordable.

He said retailers would also offer popular 'Ramadan baskets', which are affordable packages with essential goods inside sold at set prices.

The baskets will dates, nuts, sweets, cream, custard powder, rose water and other items.

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Read more:

Basic food prices slashed for Ramadan

How VAT in the UAE affects you

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CK Mugundan, a store manager of an Al Manama supermarket in Fujairah, said most products will be discounted from the end of April.

“More than 60 per cent of food products that we offer at our store will be reduced and that will include rice, cooking oil, frozen products,” he said.

“All discounted items will be available in the store by the end of this month to allow people to prepare for Ramadan, within this month’s salary.

“Last year we sold more than 300 Ramadan baskets and this year we expect the same number and maybe more."

One basket will be sealed and contain 20 discounted items and will cost Dh100. The other is a mix and match basket allowing them to choose from 300 to 400 discounted products. More than 300,000 were sold last year.