Abu Dhabi's date market bustles as traders enjoy Ramadan boost

Since Sunday, one shop has sold 600kg of the fruit, which is preferred during iftar

Thousands of dates were sold at shops in Abu Dhabi's vibrant market in the days leading up to Ramadan.

It is a tradition for worshippers to break their fast with water and dates. The holy month is the peak season for sales across the Muslim world.

On the first day of Ramadan, the date market at Mina Zayed was busier than usual.

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I wanted to feel the Ramadan vibes, so I intended to do the date shopping on the first day

Shops welcomed at least three customers at a time and some owners said they sold dates to more than 100 people only a few hours after opening their doors.

Mohammed Al Hali, of Al Bhahja Fruits and Vegetables, said he sold 600 boxes of dates since Sunday.

He said he expected to sell about 2,000 boxes by the end of the month.

“Last year we sold that much, so I already ordered 2,000 boxes for the month."

Mr Al Hali said he only sold about 150 boxes a month at other times of year.

While demand for dates increased sharply during Ramadan, he said prices remained the same. He sells dates at Dh10 ($2.70) a kilogram.

Hashir Shukoor, of Bou Kharkhash Vegetables, Fruits and Dates, said he expected to sell about 2,000 boxes of the fruit this month.

“Last year we did not sell much because of coronavirus, but this year it is already very busy,” he said.

One day 150 people came to his shop before 4pm, Mr Shukoor said.

“They bought dates, spices and other items."

But Mr Shukoor believes the increase in business will probably only continue for the first 10 days of Ramadan.

"Before Eid, people head more to the vegetables and meat markets, so this is our top season."

Ajwa dates, Mr Shukoor said, were the most popular type for Ramadan.

"In normal days, people buy more medjool, mabroom and khalas dates."

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - Dates display at Bou Kharkhash in the Mina market. Khushnum Bhandari for The National

Staff at Royal Dates also reported an increase in business and said they served about 70 customers by early Tuesday afternoon.

"It stays busy all Ramadan. Before we only got very few customers a day," one worker said.

He said business dropped last month because of the effects of the pandemic.

“But the years before, we’ve always had an average of 70 customers per day,” he said.

Bilal Ajawi, from Palestine,

was among the customers to visit the shop on Tuesday. He carried his six-month-old son Jad over his shoulder as he waited to pay for his dates.

“This is the first time I’ve taken him out with me shopping,” Mr Ajawi said.

“I wanted to feel the Ramadan vibes, so I intended to do the date shopping on the first day.”

Mr Ajawi shops at the market regularly and said it was much busier on Tuesday than at other times of year.

“I come every week to buy dates for the house. It’s just me and my wife so I only buy 1kg every week.”

Mr Ajawi said he ate dates every day during Ramadan.

“I consume three dates for iftar and three for suhoor."

But another customer was less enthusiastic about taking dates home.

“Dates are not my cup of tea, I barely eat three dates for iftar. I am here at my wife’s request,” Ahmad Idris said.

“She [Mr Idris's wife] wants the dates coated with cocoa and coconut.”

Mr Idris said he now rarely bought ordinary dates.

“They keep coming up with new [kinds of dates].”

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