Oman shops bustle with customers ahead of Eid

MUSCAT — Undeterred by the rise in prices, customers thronged supermarkets and stores throughout the sultanate on Sunday as they made final preparations to celebrate the first day of Eid Al Adha tomorrow.

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Published: Tue 16 Nov 2010, 12:15 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 8:12 AM

The authorities, meanwhile, issued a warning that stringent action would be taken against those using firecrackers, including detention without bail.

Shops in Muscat and other major cities such as Salalah, Sohar, Nizwa, Sur, Ibra and Ibri have been experiencing a rush of customers in the last few days, despite the surge in prices of most commodities over the past several months. The Muttrah and Ruwi suqs, the Ruwi High Street and the Qurum Commercial Area, in particular, were on Sunday bustling with shoppers.

Traffic moved at a snail’s pace on the main highways in the capital and elsewhere and most internal streets were clogged with cars. The traditional ‘Habta’ suqs and cattle markets that have sprung up in virtually every wilayat over the past one week reported good business.

Foodstuffs, garments, perfumes and beauty accessories, toys, bakeries and sweat meat, in particular, were much sought after and shopkeepers struggled to meet demand.

The inflation rate in the country hit 4.2 per cent in September, compared to 1.3 per cent in the same month of last year, triggered mainly by a hike in prices of foodstuffs and vegetables, according to newly-released official statistics.

“Apparently, the higher prices are not putting off people from making their purchases for the big day,” an official at a leading supermarket said. “The only thing we could notice is that customers tend to opt for cheaper products instead of higher-priced and branded goods,” he added.

“We customers have no choice… This is an occasion we have to celebrate and celebrate in a big way with our families,” Salim Al Dhohani, an Omani customer busy shopping at a hypermarket in Muscat, said. “So irrespective of the prices, we have to buy all the necessary things – foodstuffs and toys and gifts for children,” he added.

Tomorrow’s celebrations will start after special congregational prayers in leading mosques throughout the country in the morning. The government has declared a three-day public holiday from today (Monday) to mark Eid.

The Royal Oman Police (ROP) said those found dealing in firecrackers or using them would be sternly dealt with.

Policemen, it added, had been instructed to arrest any person found in possession of crackers, also warning that those found guilty would be arrested. “They will not be released even on bail and will remain in police custody until they were tried,” ROP said.

Although crackers, or ‘Al Fattak’ in Arabic, are strictly banned in the country, they tend to surface during festivals such as Eid. The Omani law prescribes a maximum imprisonment of three years and fines up to RO 3,000 for people convicted of illegal trade in banned articles such as crackers.

The punishments will be doubled in case of repeat offenders as per Articles 145/4 and 142 of the GCC Unified Customs Law. ROP said some offenders who tried to smuggle firecrackers during Eid Al Fitr were detained, tried by court and jailed and fined.

“Despite punishments being meted out to smugglers and users of firecrackers over the past years, children continue to use them especially during Eids and on other occasions,” a police spokesman said, adding:

“It is a public nuisance. Besides, the use of firecrackers could cause injuries and burns to users and passers-by and may start fires. There is a real risk that users may injure their eyes. Probably laxity from the side of parents is behind the continuation of this phenomenon.”

Accidents claim 20 lives in week

Road accidents claimed the lives of 20 people in Oman last week; another 158 sustained injuries. A total of 140 traffic accidents were reported from around the country during the week, the Royal Oman Police (ROP) said.

The highest number of deaths was reported from the Batinah region – 10, followed by Muscat (5), Sharqiya (4) and Dhofar (1). The five deaths in Muscat were caused by one single accident near the Naseem Garden in which five vehicles were involved. Four others were wounded. In October, the count of traffic deaths in the country was 67, while 844 others suffered injuries.

ROP cautioned motorists to be extra careful during the Eid holidays from tomorrow (Monday). They must “exercise caution by observing speed limits and complying with traffic rules,” Captain Rashid bin Sulaiman al Abri, a police spokesman, said.

He noted that 30 people died and 393 were injured in road mishaps during the Eid al Fitr holidays this year.

Meanwhile, a drug dealer and nine addicts have been arrested in Muscat. The trader was caught with heroin after he was kept under watch by the Drug Fighting Department of the Directorate-General of Inquiries and Criminal Investigation. The nine abusers were taken into custody while they were purchasing heroin from the dealer.

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