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Souq Al Amara, Damascenes' main destination as prices soar

Translation by Yusra Ahmed

(Zaman Al Wasl- Eqtsad)- Souq al Amara, a small and popular marketplace near the Old City of Damascus where almost everything needed for food can be found, but the only difference from the capital’s markets is the low prices where poor and middle class people can afford.

Amara market is not specialised in particular products, where a bunch of parsley can be bought, up to pickled olive and tomato paste, makdoos, dates, tea, and other kinds of food. Moreover, at the side road of the market there are shops for second-hand clothes, where people can buy clothes for 50 Syrian pound for a piece of clothing.

Amara market is one of the oldest markets in Damascus, connected to Thawra Street that busy with job seekers and beggars who were displaced from their houses, villages and cities.

Sometimes, a stall sells only one product as ordinary people are forced to sell and buy anything to get money. Farmers from Kafer soosah for example come on their bicycle and sell what their field produced from vegetable at low price to guarantee selling to get money, as most attendees to that market are poor and hardly can afford for minimal amount of food. For example, in Bab Srijah, a bunch of parsley is sold for 25 Syrian pounds in cold weather, and 15 in normal weather, but in Amara market, it is possible to get two or three bunches for only 25 Syrian pounds.

In regard to reserved food, many stalls sell pickled olive of different types and quality can be bought, at prices range between 200-350 Syrian pounds.

The same can be seen for the home-made tomato paste, cheese, dry figs and apricot, raisins, as all that stuff is made by housewives who sell them as well because men cannot afford for the risk of arrest if they wondered in the market.

In regard to original raw cheese, it is very much preferred by Syrian to the processed cheese sold in markets, because it is adulterated with added starch and other chemicals, besides the milk which is produced by cows and sheep eat grass irrigated with relatively clean water of natural sources.

The price of one kilogram of original cheese does not exceed 500 Syrian pounds in Amara and Baramkeh markets, while it can reach to 800 Syrian pounds of the processed kinds. Moreover, one kilogram of thick yogurt costs 300 Syrian pounds on Amara market, while it is sold for 500.SP in markets.

Escaping the municipality’s workers is another difficulties face those small traders, as the minimal procedure against then could be dismissing them and seizing their products, even sometimes they throw their products in rubbish.

Damascus city, the capital, is a large market for products of different kinds suit different levels of income, for example, Shaalan and Salhiyah markets still busy with their affluent customers, who come to the market with their luxurious cars to buy their ready food, while Bab Srijah market offers its goods to customers of middle class people of acceptable income such employees, however, the market around Thawra Street and “Thieves market” is the refuge for the poor and homeless, where they can find minimal amount of food and needs.

All that diversity in markets and incomes is resulted from controlling the market by a group of greedy traders, who invest the tragic situation of the country and people to increase their wealth and they are protected by a regime keen to keep people poor in order to threaten them and force them to choose between security and hunger.

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