Manufacturing Lanterns - File photos
CAIRO – 30 May 2017: Dozens of workers in the area of lanterns workshops in Ezbet Khairallah area in the heart of ancient Egypt are working hard to finish manufacturing the traditional Ramadan lanterns made of sheet metal. But this year is not like all the previous years because the heritage lantern industry was threatened like all the other products by the increase in U.S. dollar price.
Ammar Mohammed, owner of manufacturing lanterns workshop in Ezbet Khairallah area recounted that workers this season continue in the manufacture of lanterns only because they have no other job or source of income. “I work in Lanterns industry since I was 9 years old, we have never witnessed difficult season as this one, but what shall we do?’’ said Mohammed.
Because Ramadan spirit cannot be completed without the lantern, small workshops continue to operate, with great fears of marketing difficulties this year due to high prices, in addition to the severe decline in consumers’ purchasing power.
Some believe that the traditional Egyptian Ramadan lantern should be cheap because it is a local industry, but the truth is that all the raw materials are imported from abroad, like glass and iron. All these materials are imported from abroad in hard currency. Local raw materials are used rarely because of its low quality.
Mohamed explained that the industrial season began about 3 months ago, and there were great difficulties in providing imported raw materials due to the dollar crisis, in addition to the terrible rise in their prices.
Mohammed gave an example saying that the price of one kilo of tin used in welding increased from LE 200 last year to LE 570 this year, in addition to workers high wages, and the prices of gas and electricity.
All this costs add heavy financial burdens on the workshops owners’ shoulders. They find it difficult to fully add all these costs on the price of the final product, in order to be able to sell the lanterns at an affordable price to the Egyptian families’ members, who also suffer from difficult economic conditions.