Dubai: Dubai India's decision to ban the export of mutton has hit UAE consumers hard, with the meat becoming increasingly rare nationwide.

"The ban came into affect on August 21, and was issued following advice from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), which indicated that Indian meat on the bone should not be exported as a precaution apparently against foot-and-mouth disease," Indian Embassy sources told Gulf News. However, no full explanation was forthcoming.

Consumers, restaurants and supermarkets are bearing the brunt of the ban, which called for a prohibition on the export of "meat of sheep or goats, fresh, chilled or frozen" in addition to goat and buffalo meat.

"We normally get our mutton from India, as it's most popular," said Deepak Waghnani, manager of Cho-ithrams' Al Rais branch.

Consumers, supermarkets and restaurants throughout the UAE are feeling the effects of a ban on the import of Indian mutton, following an Indian government directive prohibiting the export of mutton.

Across the UAE, supplies of the increasingly rare commodity are dwindling, with some supermarkets bearing signs saying "Sorry, fresh mutton not available at the moment."

According to the manager of Lal's supermarket in Deira, customers are unhappy about the lack of the staple Indian meat.

"Meat sales are now down by 30-40 per cent as a result of the ban," Gulam Shikh said. "We are hoping it will be reversed in the coming days."

At one supermarket in Jumeirah, Dubai-resident Damodan, 50, from India, was trying to purchase a half kg of his favourite meat, but to no avail.

"I have been to several supermarkets, but no one seems to have Indian mutton," he told Gulf News. "This is a problem, as I do not like any other variety of meat. Indian mutton is by far the tastiest."

Likewise, Indian and Pakistani restaurants are feeling the effects of the ban.

"Normally we purchase 200 Indian sheep carcasses for our restaurants every single day," said Ayaz Farook, managing director of the Karachi Darbar restaurants.

"We are alright for the next couple of months, as our restaurants have stock. However, if the ban is upheld, it will be a problem."

According to a leading import company, the UAE imports around 20 tonnes or Dh293,600 worth of Indian mutton every day.

Industry leaders indicated that a meeting to resolve the issue has been scheduled for September 5, headed by the Indian Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority.

No imports

- Indian buffalo meat on the bone fresh and chilled

- Indian sheep and goat meat on the bone fresh, chilled or frozen

- The UAE imports around 20 tons or $80,000 (Dh295,000) worth of Indian meat daily.