Demand for Ramadan tents from hotels and major companies has fallen this year amid the impact of the economic downturn, an industry figure said today.
"Last year we had to turn down many customers because all the available inventory was booked and our staff was fully occupied completing Ramadan tents," Shakhil Ahmed, general manager of Al Mumtaz Tents, said in comments published by Emirates Business.
"This year demand has come down, but a clear picture will emerge later."
Mumtaz manufactures and leases out Ramadan tents but Ahmed admitted that rates had fallen this year as suppliers have excess inventory and manpower.
Many firms that in the past sponsored large tents for community use are now spending less, while others are cutting back on the provision of Iftar for their staff, the paper reported.
Ahmed said demand had fallen by around 30,000 sq m. He added: "Last year four major companies created about 80,000 sq m of Ramadan tent in the UAE and everybody was busy before Ramadan.
"This season many big companies have backed out of sponsoring tents."
Traditionally the greatest demand comes from hotels, which set up tents to boost sales during the Holy Month.
"This month some hotels are not spending so much on outdoor tents. Some are setting up tents within their premises to save money on additional interior decoration, air-conditioning and other facilities," Ahmed told the paper.
The Holy Month is expected to begin around August 22 in the UAE, depending on sightings of the moon.
Breaking the fast with Iftar meals in Ramadan tents at sunset, a traditional part of Arab-Islamic culture, has evolved into late-night social gatherings where shisha is smoked in air-conditioned comfort.