UAE government asks retailers to cut food prices for holy month
The UAE’s economy ministry called on retailers to slash costs of basic commodities by 20-50 percent during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, Al-Bayan reported this week.
The world's No.3 oil exporter has avoided unrest that hit nearby Oman, Bahrain and Yemen. However, concerned about the turmoil, the UAE has said it would spend $1.6bn to improve infrastructure in less-developed northern emirates.
The Gulf country has also raised military pensions by 70 percent and introduced bread and rice subsidies.
"The ministry has given all selling outlets a period of two weeks to present their final offers for [prices of] commodities during Ramadan," the daily cited Hashem al-Nuaimi, head of consumer protection at the UAE economy ministry, as saying.
"[The ministry is] advising that the discount offers range between 20 and 50 percent," he said.
The government also instructed retailers not to impose additional fees on credit card payments as of July 1, Al-Bayan said.
Rising food prices have become hugely sensitive around the world, helping to fuel protests that toppled rulers of Tunisia and Egypt earlier this year, with unrest spreading across North Africa and the Middle East.
Food prices usually soar during Ramadan, which starts in August, as families enjoy more elaborate evening meals after the daylight fasting.
Last month, the UAE government said it planned to combat rising global commodity prices by fixing the cost of about 400 foodstuffs and household products at 70 outlets in the second largest Arab economy.