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WhatsApp Marketplace Helps Shoppers Avoid Regime Bombs in Homs

Mobile application offers civilians living under threat of regime bombs a way to minimize the risks of outdoor marketplaces, as the government and its allies continue to target populated places in opposition areas
WhatsApp Marketplace Helps Shoppers Avoid Regime Bombs in Homs

In an effort to adjust to life amid continuous bombardment and rising dangers, residents in Syrian opposition-held areas are resorting to alternative methods to ensure their safety, including a creative means of harnessing mobile technology.

Alsouria Net's correspondent in the northern Homs countryside, Yaarib al-Dali, says that residents have swapped trading in some traditional markets for online ones through message programs on WhatsApp, out of fear of regime bombardment after the destruction caused to stores.

He reported that residents have set up groups on WhatsApp aiming to buy and sell various goods and medicines, adding that they are now very popular among locals. He said the process is run directly between the seller and buyer, far from the greed of some sellers and speculators in the marketplace.

The trading process is characterized by simplicity and speed, as it is enough for the seller to offer his goods and then to negotiate with a potential buyer in a short discussion regarding its price and specifications.

Abou Ali al-Homsi, a resident of the northern Homs countryside and a user of these trading groups, told Alsouria Net that he bought a number of birds after he saw them advertised on one of the WhatsApp groups, saying that he contacted the owner and agreed on a price and date for obtaining the stock.

Homsi said that the groups on WhatsApp were different depending on the goods on offer. Groups exist for mobile phone equipment and others for household goods, while others sell livestock. “These markets on WhatsApp resemble the markets known as Thursday and Friday markets, where people gather and offer goods to those who want to purchase them,” he added.

These groups have helped encourage buying and selling, iand comprise a source of livelihood for some residents. Among those is Mohamed Abdel Wahhabi, a resident of Rastan north of Homs, who previously owned a wholesale store.

He told Alsouria Net that because of the regime’s bombardment of the main market in Rastan — including his store — commercial activity had nearly halted in the city.

Abdel Wahhabi added that after these WhatsApp groups started to spread among residents he set up a group for himself through which he bought items from residents and then put them up for sale in other forums, thereby playing a mediating role between the seller and final buyer, allowing him to obtain a small of profit.

However, despite the positive effects which the trend has provided, especially for residents avoiding crowded areas which could be targeted by the regime, these WhatsApp groups do not always fulfill their purpose, as people are still forced to buy vegetables, meat and other food items for daily needs under threat of being targeted.

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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