Ramadan: Good for Ethiopia vendors, bad for restaurants

ADDIS ABABA – The Muslim fasting month of Ramadan is a peak season for street vendors hawking homemade snacks, apples, date fruits and strawberries on the streets of Addis Ababa at iftar time – but for restaurants it represents an "acceptable" low-market season.

"I sell 70 to 80 snacks a day – not only to Muslims, but also to Christians," Assefa, an 18-year-old who sells homemade snacks in the Ethiopian capital, told Anadolu Agency. "Business is always good in Ramadan."

Alemayehu Demissie, who sells toothbrushes, agrees.

"Ramadan means good business for me since Muslims use my tooth sticks [during the fasting month] to keep their mouths fresh and clean," he told AA.

"I prepare decorated pencil-sized tooth sticks from various plants for this season [Ramadan] because I know the demand is high for them, as Islam urges followers to be clean and avoid bad breath," added Demissie.

The holy fasting month began in Ethiopia, like in most countries, on Sunday.

During Ramadan, Muslims are expected to abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex from sunrise to sunset.

-Acceptable-

Yet not all businesses thrive during the Muslim holy month.

Bella, the owner of the Khartoum Restaurant in an affluent Addis Ababa neighborhood, used to provide Middle Eastern cuisine during the daytime.

"Most customers are Sudanese and Arabs," he told AA.

"Most have gone to spend the holy month in their respective countries," added Bella. "The number of customers has sharply decreased."

Hamida, a waiter and cashier at the Nehla Restaurant, said her business was only open at iftar time (sunset).

"The restaurant is closed during the day in Ramadan," she said.

"We used to prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as takeaway food," Hamida recalled. "Now our market is only at iftar time."

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