30 May 2018 - 9:21
Sweet shops doing brisk business in Ramadan: Al Aker
Safa Ramadan Al Sawwaf / The Peninsula
DOHA: The impact of the siege lasted only for eight hours due to the strategy adopted by the government to stand with private sector in providing all facilities to meet the requirements of local market, said a market player.
“The government assured the businessmen of stability therefore no businessman stopped his project or transferred his money abroad,” said Mahmoud Basem Hamdi Al Aker, General Manager of Al Aker Sweets, a famous chain of sweet shops in the country, in an interview with The Peninsula.
Al Aker further said that the Ministry of Economy and Commerce communicated with businessmen and documented the damages and losses caused by the blockade adding that the government also stood by the consumers subsidising goods so the prices should remain unchanged after the siege rather the prices of some products went down.
“Qatar Airways played key role in transporting commodities and goods from other countries,” said Al Aker adding that Al Ruwais Port reduced shipment time to three days from 7 days before blockade.
“Port of Jebel Ali was a corridor for our goods coming from the exporting countries. From the beginning of the blockade, we were told that nothing would be delivered to us from this port therefore the goods were returned to the country of origin.
“Immediately alternative solution was introduced which proved more secure and faster. The goods which used to pass from the Port of Jebel Ali took 7 days to reach Qatar, today these goods through Al Ruwais Port are reaching Qatar within three days.”
Al Aker stressed on importance of the role of the consumers in dealing with the siege adding that the consumers preferred Qatari products which encouraged the produces to increase the quality and quantity of local products.
Regarding the contribution of Qatari products to local market, Al Aker said that in the year of siege, the share of local production reached 55 percent. “Local companies are producing milk, cheese, dates, and other products.”
“Blockading countries are suffering huge losses due to imposing siege on Qatar. For example, we were importing many food items like milk, dates, spices and nuts worth QR50,000 per month from Saudi Arabia but now these imports are stopped.”
Regarding the operation of Al Aker Sweets, General Manager said: “Our branches are spread throughout Qatar on the principle to reach the consumers before they reach us and the number of branches is on constant increase.”
He said that the branches of Al Aker Sweets are at Midmac, Salwa Road, Ben Mahmoud, Umm Salal, B Square Mall, Al Gharafa, Al Wakra Market, Souq Waqif and Al Khor in addition to mobile shops called “Al Aker Mobile” roaming from one city to other.
“ Regarding the consumption of commodities for making sweets in the Holy month of Ramadan, Al Aker said that 50,000 kg cheese, five to seven tonnes of nuts and five tonnes pistachios are used in this month. “In addition, 300 to 400 liters milk, 200 to 250 kg cream, 50 kg sugar and 50 kg flour is required per day,” he added.
Speaking about special Ramadan sweets, Al Aker said that cream (Al Qishta Al Baladi) which is called Ramdaniat is one of the most important component for Ramadan sweets adding that Al Qatayef is very famous Ramadan sweet. Qatayef have various varieties and Asafiri is one of them which is being served fried and non-fried.
He pointed out that the Qatari citizens are on top list of buyers of all kinds of sweets from Al Aker Sweets throughout the year, especially in Ramadan.
He said that there was a kind of fear that the siege might affect the sale of sweets in Ramadan, but the highest sales were recorded at Al Aker sweets this Ramadan compared to past six years adding that the sales increased four times in Ramadan compared to the normal days.
Regarding social responsibility, Al Aker stressed that through the profits of Zakat, Al Aker Sweet pay annually the expenditures of 10 students pursuing higher education through an announcement on social networking site (Facebook) under certain terms and conditions.
“He said that Al Aker Sweet is also contributing to Tafreej Karba donation program run by Qatar Charity , which is now called Taraweeh and is broadcast via the Holy Quran Radio. “We also have initiatives to donate full-day sales amount to affected people in Islamic countries in case of any emergency like what happened in the Gaza War of 2014,” said Al Aker.