Abu Dhabi: Sweet and pastry shops in Abu Dhabi are seeing a surge in sales thanks to Ramadan as residents flock to purchase their favourite treats.
Dishes such as qattayef (pastry filled with nuts or sweetened cheese), luqaimat (fried dumplings covered in syrup) and mshabak (crispy fried sweet) are among the most popular treats during this time of year, and are referred to as Ramadan sweets due to the high demand they get.
“Our sales for sweets have gone by 80 per cent because of Ramadan. On the first day we sold out all of our main sweet items,” said Tony Raee, general manager at Khaleej Bakeries and Pastries, one of the oldest bakeries in the capital.
“We have two separate teams that work day and night preparing the sweets and making sure our shop is stocked up to meet the high demand. Our planning started even before Ramadan, where we made all the arrangements to make sure everything goes smoothly,” he added.
“It is a lot of work but we enjoy it. We always look forward to Ramadan because the atmosphere is different than other months. This is a yearly tradition and habit and so we know the main sweets customers are looking for. It’s only in Ramadan that we see high sales for certain sweet items like qattayef for example, and so we make as much as we can — up to 3,000 a day to keep everybody happy and satisfied,” Raee said.
Wissam Al Shaikh Hassan, owner of Al Dar Sweets, a family-run business that has been in Abu Dhabi since 1975, said that demand was high both on the retail as well as catering side, with the shop providing dishes in bulk to hotels such as Emirates Palace.
“Sales have gone up five fold for sweets. There is a big demand from customers who are visiting the shop as well from the catering side. This year’s Ramadan fell on a weekday and so we might see sales go even higher during the weekends,” Hassan said.
“It’s a 24-hour work shift. Our factory does not close and is working all day with different teams. We make up to 5,000 qattayef in one day, with that number going to as high as 8,000 on the weekend, and this is for 30 days non stop,” he added.
“We make these sweets throughout the year but it’s definitely during Ramadan where we see a considerable peak for certain Ramadan sweets and so we know which ones are the most popular,” he said.
As the owner, Hassan says his day starts from 6am all the way to 10pm during Ramadan, leaving him with very limited free time to enjoy the month.
“It’s a strange one because while I do look forward to Ramadan, I also don’t at the same time. As I am working for most of the day I don’t usually get to enjoy the spiritual aspects of Ramadan and I am often away from the family,” Hassan said.
“I might just get three free days at most during Ramadan because there is so much work. As the owner I make sure to be on duty covering both the day and night shifts, basically overseeing the operations and speaking with the clients,” he added.