Monday, September 15, 2008

Across Planet : No appetite for business during Ramadhan

Been long time, about a decade that I have not been to Bazar Ramadan in Kelana Jaya, as well as buka puasa at the hotels. Interestingly, only few years back, hotels in Dubai offer buffet for 'iftar'.
The price is unbelievably high and it is better to dine with family at home. Or with friends.
Here in Dubai, Malaysian expats have their own version of Ramadan Bazaar. The response is overwhelming and a lot of entreprenuers came forward to sell their delicacies.

There are about 6,000 Malaysian expats (and growing daily) residing in the UAE with residency visa, excluding those who are working without valid visa (mostly from Malaysian companies which are trying to cut cost). The total number could be reaching 10,000 any time soon with our current depressing economy situation. Why not join us, visit kerjadubai blog for information.

A newspaper in Dubai published this article.

No appetite for business (from 7Days)

Last Updated : Monday 15 Sep, 2008 -
Inflation and higher food prices are taking their toll on traders across Asia and the Middle East during the holy month of Ramadan, as Muslims are cutting back on treats and delicacies and fewer can afford the usual lavish evening buffets.

At five-star hotels and government functions across the Islamic world, sumptuous spreads are still on offer but higher food costs are affecting pricing and strategy.

"Business is quite slow this year compared to last year, at least 20 to 30 per cent less," said Rosihan Anuar Ahmad, sales director at Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur's glitzy JW Marriott where the buffet is half what it costs at other hotels.

"We are pricing our buffet strategically to attract customers to come and dine here and we are banking on big companies to treat their staff to a Ramadan dinner," he said.

The number of guests for the Ritz-Carlton in Dubai has not been reduced, according to executive chef Marcus Dudley, but food prices have jumped, which is part of the reason that prices for the Iftar and Sohour have increased.

"There have been extremely noticeable increases in commercial food prices when compared to the same period last year. The price of fresh fruit and vegetables has increased by an average of 18 per cent, with an even bigger increase of 26 per cent when looking at the costs of meat and fish," he said.

Dudley added that food prices had gone up in the supermarkets and stores as well as for the hotels, and this price-hike across the board is something hotels have to respond to:
"Inflation and ever-increasing prices do force us to price all dishes correctly, order due to business demands on a daily basis, and design seasonal menus, making use of what is fresh in season at that time, which is more cost effective."

In markets and bazaars, the mood is sombre as traders complain they have few customers for their traditional Ramadan fare.

"Our business strategy this year is just to stay afloat," said Azahari Wahab as he prepared 'ikan bakar' -barbequed fish over a wood fire - ata Ramadan street market in Kuala Lumpur.

"I have been trading in bazaars for the past 20 years and this is the worst year for me. We usually prepare about 100 kilogrammes of fish a day but this time it is down to 30 to 40kg," he said.

As well as the lack of customers, he said the price of his ingredients had risen "more than 100 per cent".

In Afghanistan, one of the world's poorest countries, the markets are packed with festive foods but the price of wheat alone has doubled over the past year and few can afford the pickles, sweets and special breads.

Food prices traditionally spike during Ramadan in Bangladesh, but this year the government set up 7,500 special markets in the lead-up to the holy month, selling subsidised rice and other staples as the country grapples with 45.5 per cent jump from a year ago.

"We've tried not to put up prices of common items so that poor people will still come," stallholder Mohammad Shukkor Miah said at Chawkbazar in the old quarter of the capital Dhaka.

"We have about half as many customers and our profits are lower. We have had to put up the price of specialty items and fewer people are buying those."

While national leaders and newspaper editorials recommend the faithful hold more simple celebrations this year, some feel that financial constraints should be put aside during the holy season.

"What is Eid without the food, cookies and clothes" asked Raina Samat, a sales assistant in Kuala Lumpur.

1 comment:

KY said...

wah, didn't know there's so many Malaysian there.