Bahrain souq business down 50pc
Manama, January 29, 2012
Business in Bab Al Bahrain, a leading shopping district in the kingdom is down by as much as 50 per cent following a rise in protests and arson attacks, traders said.
The area has been badly hit during the last few weeks as youths blocked roads and set fire to tyres causing traffic disruption in the Seef district and several other towns and villages.
It comes days after police were forced to chase protesters through the souq after they showed up for an Al Wefaq rally that had been declared illegal by police.
But despite the unrest shopkeepers have vowed to continue to open in the hope customers will return.
Al Sarraj Jewellers managing director Mohammed Hussain Malim, who has a diamond centre in the Manama souq, said all business in the area had been hit by the ongoing protests.
"We have been very badly affected, it's been so bad, the business people are suffering here," said the trader, who sits on the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI)'s pearl, gold and jewellery committee and Bahrain Asian traders committee.
"But we are not going to give up to panic, we won't close. If there comes a time when we are forced to close then we will cross that bridge when we come to it."
Malim said the impact on business was particularly noticeable following clashes or rumours that there could be unrest.
He said last week there was good custom in the morning, but clashes in Muharraq and tyre burning across the country resulted in business coming to a standstill and many shops decided to close.
"The worst-hit area is the souq, for some traders, especially the small ones in jewellery, cosmetics and dress material, business is more than 50 per cent down (compared to the same period last year).
"Many shops are getting closed completely and some have been there for decades and generations. We've been there for 30 years and this is the worst we have ever seen. We fear for the future.
Indian businessman and BCCI Bahrain Asian traders committee vice-chairman Bhagwan Asarpota said businesses in the Manama souq were the worst hit in the area and if the situation continued many traders would be forced to close.
"All these road blocks and tyre burning have to come to an end and more than anything rumours of trouble are causing more problems," he said. "But the show has to go on, businesses still have to open, even if there are less customers.”
"Business in the souq are down by 50 per cent compared to this time last year,” he added. - TradeArabia News Service