‘No one is thinking about Covid’: consumers concerned by high prices ahead of Ramadan 2022

People across the Mena region told ‘The National’ they have bigger concerns than the pandemic this Ramadan

For millions of Muslims around the globe, Ramadan has been upended for two years running by the Covid-19 pandemic.

But this year, amid regional conflicts and price rises, people across the Middle East say they have bigger concerns.

“This Ramadan, no one’s thinking about Covid,” construction worker Ahmed El Gizawy told The National in Cairo. "What is on everyone’s minds are the rising prices nationwide. Even bread is expensive now. Many people, me included, are really struggling under this strain."

In Baghdad, Iraq, Ahmed Ali, a government employee, emerged from a hypermarket carrying one small plastic bag.

“All prices are up and we are just weeks ahead of Ramadan,” the government employee said.

War in Ukraine and currency crunches send prices skywards

The war in Ukraine has sparked a rise in prices of basic goods, particularly those made with wheat or oil.

The price of bread in Egypt has increased by up to 50 per cent in light of the Russia-Ukraine war. This Ramadan, the largest loaves will cost about 1.5 Egyptian pounds, up from 1 pound last year.

“Many Egyptians, particularly the lower classes, forgot about Covid-19 long ago. I think they began treating it like it was the will of God and they continued with their lives. It was only a big problem for people during the lockdown, when they couldn’t work or feed their families.”

Mr El Gizawy said that rising fuel prices had delayed a lot of construction projects. He was been at home, waiting for the construction site where he works to start back up again, with colleagues constantly calling him in fear of losing their jobs.

In Jordan, 14 litres of cooking oil has soared in from $24 to $32 in the past month. A 10-kilogram bag of rice rose in price by $3, to $15.

Lina, a Jordanian mother of two, said her extended family had been buying extra rice, meat, sugar and oil, and stocking up on gas cylinders for cooking.