Eid in Syria: Family Lunch May Cost Half a Worker’s Salary

“This means that an Eid lunch for a family will take up half the salary of a first-level newly-appointed state employee”

Ibtissam, a mother of two children, Maha, 3 years old, and Rawan, 7 years old, has but two days before the start of Eid al-Adha, and she still cannot respond to the question of her oldest daughter of whether she will bring her Eid clothes and what will be the color of her dress.

This of course is not neglect on her part, but she cannot spare enough money for the price of an Eid dress for her two daughters, in addition to the shoes, and at the same time she wishes not to be forced to dress them in clothes from last Eid, fearing their sadness and frustration.

Speaking to Iqtissad, Ms. Siham, 34 years old, said that her salary was no more than 30,000 Syrian pounds ($140), which is considered a good wage in Syria these days. Her husband makes a similar salary in addition to some bonuses, and with that she can barely handle the expenses of this Eid. The price of Eid clothes of average to low quality is more than 5,000 Syrian pounds, while those of a little better quality exceed 8,000 pounds. The price of clothes can reach 12,000 pounds in some cases.

Ms. Siham added that the price of children’s shoes ranges between 2,500 and 3,000 pounds with lower than average quality, and the price may be up to 6,000 pounds, while the price of a bag was 2,000 pounds.

“With a simple calculation I found that the price of Eid clothes for my daughter will take up more than half my salary. If we take into consideration the price of daily living is no less than 3,000 Syrian pounds, I will be forced to borrow money and spend a whole year to pay off the necessary amount to cover the prices of Eid clothes and other issues connected with Eid.” Ms. Siham added that she feels pain for others, such as displaced and poor people, as despite her work and her husband she feels severe pressure, and she wondered what the situation must be like for those who have nothing.

Regarding the price of the Eid ritual as people were used to practicing before the war in Syria, such as making an Eid cake and sweets and foods rich in meat, Ms. Emm Samir, Ms. Siham’s mother, said: “The price of a kilo of sheep’s meat is no lower than 4,500 Syrian pounds, and we are a family of five people. My daughters are married and they both have two children. I wanted to invite them to lunch on one of the days of Eid, but that will require two kilograms of meat (9,000 pounds) with the vegetables and rice and other items, which will be no less than 2,000 pounds. So the total price of the lunch could be 11,000-13,000 pounds.”

Ms. Emm Samir, a retired teacher, added that the salaries of the state employees or teachers ranged between 15,000 and 40,000 Syrian pounds, according to years of service, noting that the first-level salary at the time of hiring does not exceed 24,000 pounds.

“This means that an Eid lunch for a family will take up half the salary of a first-level newly-appointed state employee.”

Regarding Eid sweets, according to Ms. Emm Samir’s experience, the price of a kilo of flour is more than 250 pounds and the price of dates for cake is 700 pounds. In addition to the price of sugar and margarine and oil brings the price of a kilo of Eid cake to 1,500 pounds at least.

To obtain more information about the price of Eid, Iqtissad spoke with Abou Mohamed, the owner of a small shop in a popular district for selling budget clothes and shoes.

“The price of jeans for boys is 2,000 Syrian pounds and shorts can be up to 1,500 pounds. The price of shirts and a blouse is about 1,500 pounds and could reach up to 3,000 pounds.”

He expressed his pain and regret for the condition of people in the area and their inability to buy any garments even if it has a reduced price because they do not have any amount of money. All they can do is look at the storefronts and wait for help and Eid donations, hoping perhaps it includes some food or clothes or money that can enable them to cover the expenses of life and cheer their children with a little Eid joy.

This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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