Egyptian university student Hadeer Mohammad with her pet dog. Image Credit:

Cairo: Every Friday morning, Ahmad Al Asran heads to Souq Al Goma’a [The Friday market] to buy pets and ornamental birds.

The 28-year-old who works as a waiter at a Cairo coffeeshop supplements his income by buying animals from the market and selling them as pets for a profit.

Al Asran, a father of three, said he started to frequent the place about five years ago—first out of curiosity and later as a dealer in pets.

“I spend the whole day there, inspecting dogs, cats and birds and haggling about their prices before I buy them for my clients, who don’t like to trouble themselves visiting Souq Al Goma’a,” he told Gulf News.

Much sought-after breeds, such as the Shirazi cat and the Lulu dog can be found at the market, for astonishingly low prices.

“After bargaining I can buy the pets cheap,” he says proudly.

Business is better than ever these days as owning pets is gaining popularity amongst ordinary Egyptians.

Until some years ago, keeping pets was confined to members of the upper crust in Egypt.

However, the habit has become increasingly popular with Egyptians from different social classes, according to traders.

Al Asran said that his clients includes people in his working-class area of Al Zawya Al Hamra in north Cairo.

The Shirazi cat, noted from its round face and flowing coat, as well as the small white-haired Lulu dog, are popular requests from his clients.

“I can buy a Shirazi there for about 150 [Egyptian] pounds [Dh31] and resell it for almost the double. The price difference helps supplement my income.”

Al Asran, a commerce school graduate, has also educated himself about animal health and care, consulting with a veterinarian at times.

“I think I have made a good name in this trade,” he added proudly, refusing to disclose his average monthly earnings.

“We are surviving in these hard times. And this itself is a miracle,” he said with a grin.