Roundup: Soaring prices dampen festive air of Eid al-Adha in Mideast

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TUNIS, July 9 (Xinhua) -- Soaring commodity prices across the Middle East has spoiled the festive mood for Muslims in Tunisia, Lebanon, Palestine, Yemen, and other regional countries which started their Eid al-Adha celebrations on Saturday.

Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice, is one of the most anticipated celebrations in the Islamic world. By tradition, families should ritually slaughter an animal, usually sheep or cow, during the four-day festival as long as they can afford it.

However, the galloping global inflation in the fallout from the U.S. rate rise and the Russia-Ukraine conflict is particularly felt in Middle Eastern countries, depriving many Muslims of Eid al-Adha preparations.

In Tunisia, as the country's inflation rockets to 8.1 percent, the highest since October 1991, households are feeling the squeeze.

Sharing the cost of a sheep with relatives is getting more and more popular in the North African country, as it helps maintain the festive atmosphere, allows people to enjoy mutton rarely seen at the table, and more importantly, saves money.

"I have to buy the sheep together with my brother to split the cost," said Lassaad Ouannes, a Tunisian taxi driver in his 40s, complaining that the price of a small sheep became even higher than the monthly minimum wage.

Muslims in Lebanon welcomed Eid al-Adha amid a dire financial crisis as the collapse of the local currency has caused a huge decline in their purchasing power, forcing a big number of them to abandon the tradition of buying Arabic sweets to serve their visiting relatives.

"High prices have weighed heavily on all people. We are buying all our raw materials in U.S. dollars. Nobody accepts payments in Lebanese pounds. Even if suppliers accept the local currency, they request that we pay it at the exchange rate on the black market," Zakia el Khatib, a sweets shop worker, told Xinhua in the capital Beirut.

In the West Bank, the prices of sacrificial livestock also rose significantly with the high costs of fodder caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukranian crisis.

At livestock markets in the blockaded Gaza Strip, there were hardly any buyers.

"The situation in the Gaza Strip is tragic ... Employees' salaries are not received on time, and unfortunately, the situation is getting worse day by day," Gazan resident Ibrahim Abdul Aal told Xinhua.

For Yemenis, securing a feast on the festival is getting increasingly difficult, if not impossible, given that the majority of the people are living in deep poverty and only a few steps away from famine.

Meanwhile, thousands of livestock farmers in these countries have faced big challenges to sell their herds to civilians with mean incomes.

One week ago, Mohamed Mili, a 59-year-old farmer came from Tunisia's northern province of Bizerte to the livestock market in Ariana, where he rented a stall to sell his 30 sheep.

However, he sold only 10 of them before Eid, as many people came to check the price and left without buying anything.

"Maybe the price has scared the customers, but it is reasonable given the surging costs of fodder," Mili grumbled.

Mohammed Hijawi, a livestock farm owner in the West Bank city of Ramallah, complained that he was able to sell only 20 percent of the livestock stockpile on his farm.

In Yemen, the civil war and the resulting chaos and division have made it difficult for livestock or grain to circulate in the poor Arab country.

"This war stops us from going to the markets in the other cities to sell our livestock. It makes us poorer and deepens our sufferings," Yemeni livestock farmer Ahmed Saghir said. Enditem

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