Pakistan’s biggest date market sees huge Ramadan demand

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Stock of freshly arrived dates at the market in Karachi. (Photo by Khurshid Ahmed)
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Dates are being displayed to attract customers at the market in Karachi. (Photo by Khurshid Ahmed)
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Dates are being loaded on a van for supply. (Photo by Khurshid Ahmed).
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Dates are loaded on a van at the dates market in Karachi. (Photo by Khurshid Ahmed)
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People are buying dates from a vender. (Photo by Khurshid Ahmed)
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People buy dates from a stall at Dates Market. (Photo by Khurshid Ahmed)
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People buy dates at Khajoor Market for iftar in Karachi. (Photo by Khurshid Ahmed)
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Stock of dates availabe for Ramadhan at Dates Market in Karachi (Photo by Khurshid Ahmed)
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A view of the Dates Market in Karachi. (Photo by Khurshid Ahmed)
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Buying and selling goes on at city's dates market, Karachi. (Photo by Khurshid Ahmed)
Updated 17 May 2018
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Pakistan’s biggest date market sees huge Ramadan demand

  • Karachi’s Khajoor Market caters to the whole country’s needs
  • Pakistan is the world’s fifth-largest producer of dates, with annual production of 650,000 tons

KARACHI: With the onset of Ramadan, commercial activities gather pace at the largest date market in Pakistan, where retailers and wholesalers rush to purchase the most sought-after commodity in the country during the Muslim fasting month.

Khajoor Market is situated in the Lyari area of Karachi. Established before the creation of Pakistan in 1947, the market has started thriving once again since security in Karachi has considerably improved following recent operations by law-enforcement agencies.
While selling dates can be lucrative at any time of the year, the business acquires greater momentum in the run-up to Ramadan. 
This is reflected in a sudden increase in the number of venders in the area, from 100 shops and kiosks to sometimes nearly 200.
The market not only caters to Karachi’s needs but also other parts of the country. Pakistan meets 50 percent of its demand by importing dates from Iran, though it also buys significant quantities from Iraq, Saudi Arabia and other states. 
But most importers and dealers complain about cumbersome import processes. “We’re facing problems due to import permits that… not only increase our costs but consume a lot of time,” Hanif Baloch, chairman of the market association, told Arab News, adding that freight costs have also gone up.
Due to high demand for dates during Ramadan, retailers and wholesalers raise prices. “Dates that are usually available for 70-80 Pakistani rupees ($0.61-$0.69) per kilogram are now sold for more than 120 rupees,” said retailer Ahmed Hussain.
The world’s fifth-largest producer of dates, Pakistan is focusing on increasing local production — currently about 650,000 tons per year — since the country is situated in an agro-ecological area where high-quality dates can grow on a massive scale. Sindh province contributes around 50 percent of dates.
Muslims worldwide like breaking their fast with dates, which are a good source of vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, magnesium and zinc. They are also a good source of energy since they contain sugar and fiber.


How the Middle East reacted to the Game of Thrones finale

Updated 21 May 2019
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How the Middle East reacted to the Game of Thrones finale

  • Arabs join fans around the world at marking the end of the HBO series
  • The show became engrained in popular culture over eight epic years

DUBAI: After eight epic years, 47 Emmys and two dead dragons, “Game of Thrones” has said goodbye to devotees worldwide after having redefined weekly “event TV.”

Having been shown in 170 countries, “Game of Thrones” was the most expensive show ever, with a budget of $15 million per episode. 

The blood-spattered tale of noble families vying for the Iron Throne wrapped up on Monday with the 73rd and final episode of one of the most popular shows in TV history.

The final episode had some emotional and surprising scenes, so it kept me hooked.

Mohammed Mansour, an Egyptian student in the UAE

“I watched it on my phone as it premiered. Honestly, the show had kind of written itself into a corner, so I didn’t really think we’d go any further than what we already expected,” Ali Tirkawi, a 22-year-old American who lives in Saudi Arabia, told Arab News after watching the final episode.

“The finale pretty much boiled down to a horribly depressing epilogue about what the main characters want to do next. I feel that the show kind of robbed us of what we had grown to expect from it,” he said. “The whole sense of danger and anxiety, who’d perish, all that really just disappeared. If I could sum up my feeling toward the final episode: Disappointment.”

Both the show’s name and its now-famous tagline, “Winter is Coming,” spawned a plethora of memes that made their way into the global political discourse. 

US President Donald Trump famously alluded to the show in a warning to Iran last year. He posted an image of himself on Twitter with the line “Sanctions are coming” above “November 5.”

The TV-watching habits of millennials have undergone a radical transformation since the first episode aired in 2011. 

Streaming services have appeared on the scene to rival cable services, and the number of shows available to watch has nearly doubled.

One of the darkest and most controversial primetime series ever made, “Game of Thrones” has been the target of criticism over the years for senseless violence as a dramatic device. The scriptwriters brutalized women and killed children, all in glorious close-up.

The adult themes deterred neither the show’s fans nor the industry awards circuit, which saw fit to make the HBO show the most decorated fictional series in history. Season 6 was the first to move beyond the source material, George R. R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” novels, and carve its own path. Critics said it marked a return to form, but the shortened final two seasons have been more of a mixed bag, with many fans furious over what they consider poor writing and a rushed conclusion of the plot strands.

“The show meant a lot to me, spanning eight years of my life. I can easily recall each and every time I watched an episode,” he added.

Elia Mssawir, a UAE-based entertainment company executive

The Season 7 finale set an all-time US record for premium cable TV, with 16.5 million people watching live or streaming on the day of transmission, and 15 million more tuning in later. The biggest question of all, who would be sitting on the Iron Throne, was answered — sort of — on Monday.

While thousands of viewers aired their gripes on social media, as they did all season, plenty of others thought it was a fitting end.

While millions watched at home, thousands celebrated or mourned the show’s denouement in public places and backyards from London to Dubai. Among them was Mira Kerbage, a 22-year-old Lebanese student of marketing communications in the UK. 

“I felt overwhelmed with everything. I don’t know if this was just because it was the end of one of my favorite shows, or because the story ended but didn’t really end,” she told Arab News.

 

 

“It was bittersweet, so I felt sad and disappointed. It was like the end of an era. You feel empty,” she said.

“I watched it at 4 a.m. in my room, went to sleep at 6 a.m. and woke up at 8 a.m. to go to university.”

Cries of joy, sobs and applause followed the peaks and troughs of what many regarded as a poignant but so-so finale. 

The episode proved to be as divisive as the rest of Season 8. Chief among the controversies was the rapid descent into the mass-murdering madness of Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys Targaryen, arguably the lead character in an enormous ensemble that has called on the talents of such luminaries as Charles Dance, Sean Bean, Jim Broadbent and Diana Rigg.

OSN, which aired the show in the Middle East with English and Arabic subtitles, had marked the arrival of Season 8 with a social media competition calling on fans to unleash their creativity. 

“From fashion or design to baking, braiding or painting, use your talents to show your love for the Throne,” an OSN press release said in March.

Mohammed Mansour, an Egyptian student in the UAE, was surprised and happy, but also a bit disappointed after watching the finale. 

“Happy because it gave closure, disappointed in the way some characters met their fate. It doesn’t do them justice. But the final episode had some emotional and surprising scenes, so it kept me hooked,” he told Arab News.

“It was one of the best shows I’ve seen in my whole life, although the last two seasons weren’t as great.”

A petition calling for the final season to be remade has now passed 1.1 million signatures. 

In China, the show’s rights holder triggered outrage among legions of die-hard fans — some of whom took the morning off work to tune in — by mysteriously delaying its broadcast just before it was due to air. That did not stop fans from flocking online, with one dramatic twist provoking a discussion on the Twitter-like Weibo platform that was viewed more than 230 million times.

“It was even more intense than a football finale,” said Ewald Klautky, 52, one of about 200 fans who watched the final episode together in Los Angeles.

Elia Mssawir, a UAE-based entertainment company executive, watched the episode alone at home. “I really kind of enjoyed it, and it was mostly because of the unexpected turn of events. I loved the fact that they put every character in their place without wasting any time,” he told Arab News. “This was something many ‘Game of Thrones’ fans felt uncomfortable about, but I really enjoyed it. Not every series or movie has to have a happy ending,” he said. 

“The show meant a lot to me, spanning eight years of my life. I can easily recall each and every time I watched an episode,” he added. “I lived in three different countries during this time, and I took the show with me on the road. One time I was touring with an artist, and I made it my mission to get data to stream it on the bus while going to the next gig.”

The ending of “Game of Thrones” was all too much for its stars, including Sophie Turner, who first appeared as Sansa Stark as a young teenager. She wrote on Instagram of her character: “I fell in love with you at 13 and now 10 years on ... at 23 I leave you behind, but I will never leave behind what you’ve taught me.”