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Beach businesses suffer from Ramadan lull
Published in Daily News Egypt on 03 - 10 - 2007

ALEXANDRIA: Ramadan falling before the end of the summer vacation has forced many beach businesses to shut down earlier than usual.
A number of beach photographers and restaurant staff who make most of their profits during the summer months complain about this year's shortened season.
Some of the beaches visited by Daily News Egypt this week in the districts of Miami, Asafra and Mandara were empty. These same beaches were congested just a few days prior to the start of the holy month. Nonetheless, some business managers insisted on pitching parasols the length of the beaches.
"We can't close down right now, said Marei Hanafi, a worker at one of the businesses lining the beach. "I understand everyone is fasting right now, but it is still summertime and we are expecting a lot of vacationers to flock to Alexandria during Eid.
"We have to look as though we're still working. A few people come to have iftar on the beach during weekends or sohour at night, he added.
Ali Hassan, a waiter at one of the Mamoura beach restaurants, said, "For the past few years the end of the summer season did not coincide with the beginning of Ramadan, but it happened this year. We have to keep operating, and luckily, some people come to us on the weekends.
In Mamoura, only five or six small groups dotted the expansive beach. They were either retired, non-Muslims or fresh graduates who put off their search for a job until after the holy month.
"I don't think we should blame Ramadan for bringing the season to an end, said Hatem Abbas, a retired army officer. "Schools have started and the majority of parents have used what was left of their [annual] leave over the past two months. Who's going to come now?
Tarek Gamil, Salem Effat and Mohamed Gamal are waiting to determine the status of their military service. They spend a few hours by the seaside everyday.
"It's practically impossible to do anything on the beach during Ramadan other than sit down and smell the fresh air, said Effat, "Usually two weeks after schools reopen, people still come to the beach, but with the arrival of the holy month, they can't do that, he added.
"Some people do have the time and means to spend Ramadan by the seaside, said Hayam Ahmed, who came to Mamoura for a walk with her husband Shawki. "For most of us, however, Ramadan is a home-oriented event marked by certain festivities that can't be arranged on the beach.
"I love Ramadan, but this year it came as a big blow to our business, said Fathi Kamel, a beach photographer. "Of course we can't object, but we're pinning hope on the Eid holidays. Let's pray we'll make up for the loss. After all, our gains and losses are all from God, quipped the optimistic photographer.


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