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.


All eyes on Salah as Egyptians await Champions League final

Updated 27 May 2018
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All eyes on Salah as Egyptians await Champions League final

CAIRO: An owner of a Cairo coffee shop supervised last-minute arrangements for Saturday’s European Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool, giving instructions to his employees as they lined up chairs and set up a bigger television set.
“Today is the big day for us. No match is more important than tonight’s, simply because Mohamed Salah is playing,” Mohamed Fathy, the owner of a cafe located in the affluent district of Maadi in southern Cairo, told Arab News.
Salah has enjoyed a record-breaking debut season with Liverpool and could cap a remarkable campaign by leading the Reds to the most-coveted European title as they face serial winners Real Madrid, who are eyeing a third successive triumph.
Nicknamed the Egyptian King, Salah has racked up a record 32 Premier League goals in a 38-game campaign and netted 10 Champions League goals to help Liverpool reach their first final since losing 2-1 to AC Milan in 2007.
He has become a national hero in Egypt, with his popularity hitting unprecedented heights. Saturday’s Champions League final is given more attention than any fixture for Cairo giants Ahly or Zamalek, who each have a huge fan base in the football-mad country.
“We raised our prices a bit because this is the probably the most important day of the football season. We expect to welcome the same number of people who came to the cafe when Egypt defeated Congo (last October) to reach the World Cup,” Fathy said.
Salah ‘gatherings’
Friends have been making plans for weeks to watch the game, choosing between a plenty of options as Cairo’s cafes and mega-malls gear up for the final.
Cairo Festival City, a mall in the upscale Fifth Settlement district, installed a huge screen for its visitors, creating a stadium-like atmosphere. Vodafone, Egypt’s leading mobile operator, launched a competition and invited customers to watch the match and have the pre-dawn Suhoormeal at Cairo’s upmarket Ritz-Carlton hotel.
Coffee shops in poorer areas also replaced their television sets with larger models, which were placed in the streets in order to accommodate as much people as possible.
Many friends are planning to come together in large gatherings at homes after the Ramadan iftar meal to watch Salah in action, but some have mixed emotions.
Spanish giants Real Madrid, the world’s most successful outfit, are popular in Egypt and favored by millions of Egyptians, who will be equally keen to see Salah lift the Champions League trophy in Kiev.
“I really don’t know who I should support now; my heart is split between Real Madrid, the club I have been supporting since I was child, and Salah who deserves to finish his season by winning such a prestigious title,” said Mahmoud Raheem, a 32-year-old fan.
But Liverpool and Salah still enjoy the unique support of their own fans. The club, England’s most successful in Europe, has an official fan club in Egypt, which includes thousands of supporters.
They plan to watch the game on a huge screen in Cairo’s Nasr City district, hoping Salah could play an instrumental role in giving them a title they have long sought.
“It will be difficult against Real because of their experience, but we still have deadly counter-attacking abilities that could help us a lot. Salah has had a great season and it would be great if he can finish the season by leading us to the trophy,” said Ahmed Maher, a 36-year-old Liverpool fan.
If Salah wins the Champions League, he will only become the second Arab to taste that glory after Algerian great Rabah Madjer, who was on target in Porto’s famous 2-1 comeback win over Bayern Munich in the 1987 European Cup final.