Women in rural Tunisia mix hot sauce with business

Women in rural Tunisia mix hot sauce with business
A group of women farmers in Menzel Mhiri near Kerouan in rural central Tunisia banded together in 2013 to form a cooperative and marketed their harissa under the “Errim” trade name. (AFP)
Updated 06 December 2017

Women in rural Tunisia mix hot sauce with business

Women in rural Tunisia mix hot sauce with business

MENZEL MHIRI, Tunisia: These Tunisian women have some sauce, pooling their resources and a seasoned culinary expertise handed down the centuries from mother to daughter.
Their secret? Harissa — the spicy hot pepper paste used to add zing to dishes traditionally prepared in North Africa’s Maghreb region.
These days, when Najoua Dhiflaoui prepares harissa, it is no longer just for her family. She and another 150 women are now making money by producing and even exporting their ancestral savoir faire.
Harissa, made from sun-dried chili peppers, freshly prepared spices and olive oil to both preserve and soften its heat, is added to most dishes in restaurants in Tunisia, and is also popular abroad.
In 2013, a group of women farmers in Menzel Mhiri near Kerouan in rural central Tunisia banded together to form a cooperative they dubbed “Tahadi” — Arabic for “challenge.”
Dhiflaoui and her co-workers certainly rose to it.
They went “door-to-door to convince others to join them, to combine their knowledge and sell their products together,” the dynamic fortysomething said.
The women were able to take advantage of an official project to support local produce and were given training in the technical, hygienic and commercial aspects of their venture.
For the past two years, they have marketed their harissa under the “Errim” trade name. That’s Arabic for small gazelle, also a symbol of feminine beauty.
“It’s a way of representing the Tunisian woman — hard-working, authentic and fiery,” said Dhiflaoui with a smile, her forehead beaded with sweat from both the heat and the peppers.
Tahadi now has 164 people working for it, and is one of the first firms in Tunisia to work exclusively with local rural women under a rotational system — its members work according to a flexible schedule.
In a spotless white laboratory lined with machinery that grinds, kneads and fills, the gloved women wash and prepare locally harvested ingredients to make the red paste.
Women play a key role in the Tunisian economy, said Farouk Ben Salah of PAMPAT, a UN, Swiss and Tunisian project aimed at getting rural products such as harissa onto the market.
“The main thing is to create working conditions for them as soon as possible,” he said.

The harissa makers are paid “slightly more than the agricultural wage, around 15 dinars” (€5) per working day, said Ben Salah.
Others work from home, performing essential tasks for the project and generating some income by cleaning and drying peppers on the roofs of their houses.
Dhiflaoui is full of enthusiasm. “This work allows women a certain financial autonomy,” she said, boosting their confidence and enabling them “to move forward.”
Since the launch of the cooperative, the farmers “have encouraged each other to make their mark. No longer do you have to be a teacher or doctor, now they too can work and feel they have a place in society.”
Women in rural Tunisia are particularly affected by gender discrimination and lack of job security.
While female unemployment is 22.5 percent at a national level, the rate exceeds 35 percent in rural provinces, according to a 2015 report by the National Institute of Statistics.
Dhiflaoui said that many of the women who now work at Tahadi used to labor in the fields in “terrible conditions” or “waited until their husbands brought money home.”
Their new role has “made them bloom” and given them “liberty,” she added.
“There’s a big difference between a woman with her own monthly salary and a woman who relies on a husband,” said Chelbia Dhiflaoui, Najoua’s cousin who also works at Tahadi.
“She feels a sense of responsibility, she sets goals she can reach — and she’s working to improve her living conditions.”
Ben Salah said PAMPAT could help Tahadi diversify its production to give the cooperative more opportunities to employ women who live in rural areas.
Errim Harissa is already making a name for itself.
Sold in gourmet food stores nationally, it can also be found in Switzerland and Germany, and orders have been dispatched to France and Italy.
Talks are also underway to export the delicacy to Canada.


IMF secures pledges worth $1.42bn for Sudan debt relief

IMF secures pledges worth $1.42bn for Sudan debt relief
Updated 13 min 55 sec ago

IMF secures pledges worth $1.42bn for Sudan debt relief

IMF secures pledges worth $1.42bn for Sudan debt relief
  • The pledges will clear Sudan's debts with the IMF
  • Sudan received debt relief from the Paris Club group of creditors in May

WASHINGTON: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has secured sufficient pledges to clear Sudan’s debt with the lender after 101 member countries promised 992 million Special Drawing Rights (SDR), equivalent to $1.42 billion.

“Today’s financing milestone marks a historic opportunity for Sudan to move toward comprehensive debt relief from the IMF and the international community,” Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said in a statement on Tuesday. “The Fund will continue to support Sudan in its recovery from a long period of instability and economic hardship.”

Sudan’s total external debt amounted to $50 billion at the end of 2019, according to the IMF. The country is still working with its creditors to reconcile its debt up to the end of last year, and officials say the final total could be as high as $60 billion, Reuters reported last month.

Sudan owes the Paris Club creditors group about $19 billion, mainly to France, Austria and the US.

In May, several countries agreed to write off Sudan’s debts during the Paris Conference to support Sudan, including $5 billion from France, which also approved a loan of $1.5 billion.


Oil hits more than two-year high on US inventories

Oil hits more than two-year high on US inventories
Updated 20 min 1 sec ago

Oil hits more than two-year high on US inventories

Oil hits more than two-year high on US inventories
  • “The uptrend is regaining momentum,” said Stephen Brennock at oil broker PVM

LONDON: Oil rose above $75 a barrel on Wednesday, reaching its highest since late 2018, after an industry report on US crude inventories reinforced views of a tightening market as travel picks up in Europe and North America.
The American Petroleum Institute reported that crude stocks fell by a bigger than expected 7.2 million barrels, two market sources said. Official inventory figures from the Energy Information Administration are due at 1430 GMT.
Brent crude rose 81 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $75.62 by 0824, having touched its highest since October 2018 at $75.64. US West Texas Intermediate added 49 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $73.34 and is close to its highest since October 2018.
“The uptrend is regaining momentum,” said Stephen Brennock at oil broker PVM. “Overnight, the API set a bullish backdrop.”
Brent has gained more than 45 percent this year, supported by supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and as easing coronavirus restrictions boost demand. Some oil industry executives are even talking of crude returning to $100.
“Underlying demand in the physical market means that any corrections lower will remain shallow and short,” said Jeffrey Halley, analyst at brokerage OANDA.
OPEC and allies, collectively known as OPEC+, meet on July 1. They have been discussing a further unwinding of last year’s record output cuts from August but no decision has been made on exact volumes, two OPEC+ sources said on Tuesday.
Global demand is set to rise further in the second half of the year, though OPEC+ also faces the prospect of rising Iranian supply.
A retreat in the US dollar has also helped to prop up oil, making crude less expensive for holders of other currencies.


Dubai’s Meydan to hold talks on $2.6bn debt restructure plan

Dubai’s Meydan to hold talks on $2.6bn debt restructure plan
Updated 56 min 51 sec ago

Dubai’s Meydan to hold talks on $2.6bn debt restructure plan

Dubai’s Meydan to hold talks on $2.6bn debt restructure plan
  • PwC has been appointed to work on a proposal
  • Meydan's total debts amount to about $4 billion

RIYADH: Dubai developer Meydan will meet its creditors next week to discuss a $2.6 billion debt restructuring plan, Bloomberg reported citing people familiar with the matter.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has been working with the company to put together a proposal, the people said, asking not to be identified for information confidentiality.

Meydan’s total debt amounts to about $4 billion, of which $2.6 billion needs to be restructured, the people said.

Under the plan, the company will ask creditors to extend repayments on that amount for an expected period of 8 to 10 years, they said.

The company also intends to sell assets to raise fresh funds, they added.

Spokespeople for PwC and Meydan declined to comment.


European banks should start merging, says Deutsche Bank’s top Qatari investor

European banks should start merging, says Deutsche Bank’s top Qatari investor
Updated 23 June 2021

European banks should start merging, says Deutsche Bank’s top Qatari investor

European banks should start merging, says Deutsche Bank’s top Qatari investor
  • European banks need the scale to compete with US, Chinese rivals

DOHA: Deutsche Bank AG’s biggest Qatari shareholder urged consolidation in Europe’s financial services industry, so the continent’s lenders can achieve the scale to compete globally, Bloomberg reported.

European lenders should start merging now to confront the growing strength of US and Chinese lenders, the former Qatari prime minister and influential investor Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani said in an interview.

“They have to decide,” he said about Deutsche Bank, “but I’m saying what I think and I believe that mergers are inevitable.”

“Everybody’s waiting to have a better valuation to think about merging, but I believe to merge now is better because the market is being taken by the big banks,” Sheikh Hamad said in an interview at the Qatar Economic Forum, Powered by Bloomberg.

“If we compare the European banks with the American banks or with the Chinese banks, we would find that they are too small to survive by themselves,” he said.

Sheikh Hamad is one of the German lender’s largest shareholders through an entity called Paramount Services Holdings.

In 2015, he transferred about half his shareholding to Supreme Universal Holdings, controlled by former emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani and each entity owns a stake of just over 3 percent in Deutsche Bank.


Dubai repays $500m bond certificates

Dubai repays $500m bond certificates
Updated 23 June 2021

Dubai repays $500m bond certificates

Dubai repays $500m bond certificates
  • Notes matured on June 22

RIYADH: The Government of Dubai, acting through the Department of Finance (DOF), announced that the $500 million Fixed Rate Note issued on 22 June 2011 under its Euro Medium Term Note Programme, reached maturity on 22 June 2021.

Upon maturity, all the notes have been redeemed in full, according to the Dubai Media office statement on Tuesday.

“The Government of Dubai’s ability to fulfill its financial obligations reflects its deep fiscal stability amidst the circumstances imposed by the current global crisis,” said Director General of DOF Abdulrahman Saleh Al Saleh. “The government’s solvency has allowed it to fulfill its past and current obligations and will continue to enable it to meet all future obligations on time.”

“We have been successful in overcoming the most challenging repercussions of the global pandemic, and have now entered a solid phase of recovery, thanks to the measures taken by the government to ensure rational prioritized spending, under the directives of our leadership,” Al Saleh added.