By Abdurrahman Waresameh
MOGADISHU, July 10 (Xinhua) -- In Somalia, business is booming, prices are rocketing and people are busy shopping as Islam's holiest month of fasting Ramadan is expected to start this week.
Muslims in this Horn of Africa country are preparing for the 30- day abstinence by buying staples from the markets in the capital Mogadishu.
Bakara Market is the biggest of its kind in Somalia, and both shoppers and traders are busy buying and selling the essentials for getting through the fast during the ninth month of the Muslim lunar calendar.
Ramadan starts following the sighting of the moon's crescent in any place in the country or in other Muslim nations.
Adult Muslims are required to abstain from food, drink and sex during the time between dawn and dusk but feast and pray during much of the night.
People tend to buy staples such as flour, rice, sugar and dates in bulk that will last for the whole month, so shopping during this time is hectic in all markets in the country.
Aweys Ahmed Osman is a trader at the Bakara market and sells various foodstuffs. He says business is booming and people are buying in large quantities to get ready for the holy month.
"This is the time of year that we see businesses, especially food stuff going fast. This year the price of dates is lower than last year, for example, and people are happy about that so they will have good Ramadan," Osman told Xinhua at his store in Bakara.
Somali government officials this week called on local traders reduce the prices of basic foodstuffs which often skyrocket during Ramadan.
Residents in the capital say that despite the government's call prices of most staple commodities remained as high as they were before.
Thousands of internally displaced people who fled from their homes two years ago because of the famine in the southern parts are encamped in various parts of the city. Those may not be able to buy the food to break the fast after a long day of abstinence.
Senior government leaders called on business people to help the poor and displaced during the holy month of Ramadan which is a month of sharing and charity for the vulnerable in Islam.
But for those who can afford to buy their Ramadan essentials in bulk like Ahmed Mohamed's family, getting ready for fasting is no problem.
"We are ready for Ramadan and bought from the market all we needed to consume during the night," Mohamed told Xinhua as he shopped at the main Bakara Market in Mogadishu.