Price hikes prompt Yemenis to change Eid plans [Archives:2008/1194/Front Page]

September 29 2008

Almigdad Mojalli
SANA'A, Sep 24- Low income, price hikes, the rising cost of living and large families have forced many Yemenis to change the way they celebrate Eid.

For many years, it's been the norm for Yemenis to splurge on new clothes, great feasts and sweets during the holy celebration, as well as to travel to other governorates, like Aden, Hudaida, Mukala and Taiz to spend the holiday.

This Eid, many cannot afford to travel as they are struggling to make ends meet. Others will cancel travel plans to use the money to buy Eid sweets and new clothes for their children instead.

In addition to the general price hikes the country has witnessed during the past two years, the increase of rates in tourist destinations such as Aden and Mukala during the Eid period have made it especially difficult for many people to spend their holidays there.

“I used to spend the Eid holiday in either Aden or Hudaida, or in my village, but unreasonable prices and an unchanged income have led me to cancel the idea this year,” said Ahmed Al-Ezzi.

“We will spend the Eid holiday at home because my family is big and can't afford all the costs of the trip,” adds Hana Mohammed.

Marwan Al-Saqqaf, 32, used to travel to Taiz with his family to spend the Eid holiday with relatives. This year, he is going to travel alone. “Everything is expensive and it is difficult to take my whole family to Taiz,” said Al-Saqqaf.

Kaid Al-Radfani, 37, mentioned that he will not be able to travel anywhere because of the extra price hikes in Aden during Eid. “During Eid, you will find that everything is double its normal price, especially in hotels, and we are living off a salary that hasn't been raised for a long time,” Al-Radfani said.

In addition to the price hikes, having a large family is considered a main factor in changing the Eid program. “I have five sisters and six brothers as well as my parents; just imagine how much we need just for rooms. It is really difficult to take them all, and we can't take some and leave the others,” said Zaid Ali.

To compensate, some people resort to taking their families to the suburbs in the Sana'a governorate for picnics, instead of traveling to other cities.

Ameed Ali stated that he would take his family for a picnic to the Bani Matar waterfall, the Stone Palace or another place because he cannot take them to another city.

Price hikes have affected children's enjoyment of Eid. In the past, people used to buy more than one dress or suit for a boy or a girl but now many people can hardly afford to give their children one dress, and then ask them to keep it for the next Eid.

“In the past, I used to buy more than one dress for each of my children, but now I find it very difficult to buy at least one for each. Now I just buy new clothes for my younger children, I can't give anything to those who are above 17-years-old,” said Mohammed Al-Haimi, a father of seven.

In spite of all these difficulties, people are struggling to compromise to keep their lives in balance.