With Eid Al Adha just two days away, Sharjah residents have expressed concern over the expected hike in prices of sacrificial animals. Residents here expected the prices to shoot up beyond what is usual for this time of the year as "cost of living has gone up".
A resident, Abbas Taha, said traders will hike prices on the day of Arafah on Wednesday as most people buy animals on this day. "They don't get caught as inspectors from the department concerned inspect prices a few days before Eid.
"Those who have space in the compound of their houses to keep sacrificial animals save money as they buy the animals at cheap prices much before Eid," Taha said.
Another resident, Hakeem, said prices of imported sacrificial animals range from Dh450 to Dh900, but the prices shoot up by almost 100 per cent on the day of Arafah. He urged the authorities concerned to step up inspections on the day before Eid.
Mohammed Akbar, a resident, said traders try their best to make as much money as possible during the Eid Al Adha season.
"Some traders even cheat customers. Last year, a trader sold me Somali sheep claiming it was Indian. A veterinarian doctor, who checked the animal before it was slaughtered, told me this.
"Such malpractices need to stop, and the authorities concerned need to step up regulation and control in the local markets," Akbar said.
Another resident, Abdul Latif, said: "I buy sacrificial animals two days before Eid Al Adha. Every year, I find there is a big difference in prices in the Eid season and on other days."
A resident, who did not wish to be named, said he bought a lamb for Dh1,000, which usually would cost just Dh400. "This price will go up further on the eve of Eid to around Dh1,500."
Prices will go up by 50%: Traders
Traders Khaleej Times spoke to said prices of sacrificial animals will go up by 50 per cent on the day of Arafah.
A trader at the Sharjah Cattle Market said business is slow this season as compared to previous seasons. "We have to attract buyers and so we will not increase the prices of animals."
Another trader at the market, however, admitted prices will soar in the next two days when residents are expected to flock the market to buy animals. "Many residents prefer to buy the animals and take it directly to the abattoir for slaughtering due lack of space to keep them."
Traders admitted that they make extra profits in the Eid season. However, according to them, a part of the hiked prices is due to the high costs involved in importing animals. One trader, Abdul Aleem, said even prices of animal feed are "very high", with a bag of feed costing between Dh30 to Dh50.
"The prices of animals increase in the Eid season because it is the only time we can make some profits as the market is very slow during other days. We spend a lot of money on feeding imported animals," he said.
Another trader, Khan M., said prices increase on the day before Eid due to "lack of market control".
Municipality inspectors visit the market every day, but "they focus more on the health of animals" and not prices.
Animal health is priority: Municipality
The health of sacrificial animals tops the list of priorities for the Sharjah Municipality, a top official said. Setting the prices is the responsibility of the Ministry of Economy, he said.
"We carry out inspections every day and check the health of animals to ensure customers are buying healthy animals," he said.
A veterinarian doctor at the Sharjah Cattle Market said residents are taken for a ride by traders as they don't know the difference between the different breeds of animals.
When Khaleej Times toured the market to check the prices, we found that Indian sheep cost between Dh500 to Dh900; while Somali sheep cost between Dh450 to Dh800; Iranian sheep Dh800; Pakistani sheep Dh600; and local male goat Dh1,000. Other animals cost between Dh500 to Dh900.
By Afkar Abdullah
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