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Expatriate workers at Muttrah Souq feel the pinch

11 Apr 2020

As the lockdown owing to the COVID-19 continues in  Muttrah, the future of businesses in the area is hanging in the balance.  

Many of the shops in Muttrah Souq selling antiques, bukhur and other knick-knacks, run by Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi expatriates for decades, are the hardest hit.  While bigger shops and businessmen are likely to survive the closure, there are many others whose livelihood is at stake. 

Many of those are bachelors who labour every day to send some money to their dependants in their respective countries.  Mohammad Ali, one such shop owner, said, “We need to earn here not only for ourselves but also we need to support our families back in India. It’s true that this is a very hard time for all of us and we must work together to fight this pandemic.  

“But all my income has stopped and I am unable to send any money to my hometown in Kerala. I also have a house loan and need to pay the EMIs on time, else I will be in trouble.”  

With Muttrah being identified as a hotspot of the disease, it has caused some worry among the family members of the expatriate workers.  

Ashraf, a salesman, said, “My family in India after seeing the news is very tensed. Most of us here share rooms and we have almost three to five persons. We share rooms, kitchen and bathroom. It is indeed a matter of concern and if one of us catches the virus others are at risk. We cannot go back to India as well due to the situation and unavailability of flights.”  

On a positive note, the authorities, including the Wali’s Office in Muttrah and several charitable organisations have started providing food and other essential items to the residents.  

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