Ukraine war food crisis hits Arab world markets, and Ramadan tables


As Russia’s war in Ukraine wreaks havoc on global food and energy prices, it’s being acutely felt in the Middle East and North Africa, a region that relies on wheat, grains, and cooking oil from Black Sea countries.

Soaring prices and food shortages hit all at once at the onset of Ramadan, the holy month of daylong fasting and festive nighttime meals and gatherings. Muslims who had hoped to emerge from a pandemic-fueled economic and social downturn and celebrate are instead finding ways to do with less.

Why We Wrote This

What does the world’s interconnectedness mean at a personal level? For Muslim Arabs this Ramadan, it means someone else’s war is an unwelcome guest at a depleted holiday table.

“This crisis is creating shock waves … that touch every home in this region. No one is spared, ”the World Food Program warned at the start of Ramadan, which has since seen long lines for bread and market constraints on the holiday table.

In Jordan, many mark the first two weeks of Ramadan with large iftar banquets, with households in extended families rotating hosting duties. But this year many say they are breaking fast with only their nuclear families – a habit that began during the pandemic.

“The prospect of hosting is such a burden. Many people are too shy to discuss it or accept an invitation because they know the impact on a household, ”says Hishem Saeid, an Amman barber. “Expectations for Ramadan are changing. We are changing with the economic times. ”

Tunis, Tunisia; Cairo; and Amman, Jordan

For Fadhila Khalfawi, it has been a Ramadan full of surprises.

On the first day of the holy month, the Tunis resident spent an hour and a half waiting in a bakery line to grab the last baguette. On the second day, there was no bread to be found.

Unable to find semolina pastry dough or afford eggs, she had to cut out brick – the fried pastry that has long been a staple on every Tunisian iftar table.

Why We Wrote This

What does the world’s interconnectedness mean at a personal level? For Muslim Arabs this Ramadan, it means someone else’s war is an unwelcome guest at a depleted holiday table.

She now breaks her daylong fast with a solitary soup and salad.

“I don’t really know a lot about war, but from what I can see, this war is taking place in Ukraine, but its impacts are being felt in Tunisia,” Ms. Khalfawi says.



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