Like many other Yemenis, Ibrahim Hilan follows decades-old Ramadan traditions and tastes, regardless of his economic situation.
The 28-year-old telecommunications worker spent all his savings on food supplies for Ramadan and is currently waiting for a holiday bonus from his job so he can afford more goods for Eid.
Hilan told Al-Shorfa that even if his employer does not award a bonus, he will still purchase new clothes and mixed nuts for Eid by taking advantage of certain retail offers that allow customers to pay in instalments.
Hilan is no different from other Yemenis who spend more during Ramadan as they try to secure the various commodities despite the difficult economic conditions, poverty and unemployment that swept throughout Yemen.
Sheikh Jabri Ibrahim, Director General of Preaching and Guidance at the Ministry of Endowments and Guidance, told Al-Shorfa that Ramadan is a season of worship and upholding traditions.
"Ramadan is a religious season for Muslims and people celebrate by purchasing goods and luxuries for this month as well as increasing their worship frequency," he said. "That is why people spend more money to meet their needs during this holy month."
Economists say the reason behind such spending behaviour is lack of consumer awareness and a desire to uphold the Ramadan customs and traditions that have been passed down for decades in Yemen.
"Customs and traditions have turned Ramadan from being a month of worship to a month of consumerism, because of the varied Ramadan dishes that families consume almost in every home," said Mustafa Nasr, Director of the Studies and Economic Media Centre.
Pointing to Centre polling data, Nasr said the typical Yemeni family's spending during Ramadan doubles compared to other months.
The surveys also showed that the sources of spending vary between using family's savings, borrowing or purchasing through instalments.
"There are traditions that are popular among many families, especially in urban areas, such as having guests over for Iftar throughout the month of Ramadan, specifically relatives whose families live in the countryside as well as neighbours and friends," Nasr said.
Dr. Taha al-Fasil, an economics professor at Sanaa University, said that customs, traditions and culture are major factors that contribute towards excessive spending during Ramadan in Yemen, in addition to lack of consumer awareness.
"Upholding traditions and the role of television and the media in transferring consumption habits across Arab countries both contributed to increased spending levels during Ramadan, turning it into a month of consumerism rather than worship," al-Fasil said.
He told Al-Shorfa that many lower-income Yemenis are able to acquire holiday goods through Zakat alms and donations offered by charities to cover family needs during Ramadan.
Abdul Jalil Hassan, Counsellor for Economic Affairs at the National Centre for Information, said Ramadan is an annual event where both poor and rich Yemenis embark upon a spending spree and blast through their savings.
"Most Yemenis prepare for [Ramadan] by saving up to be able to buy their needs for Ramadan or clothes for Eid, or resort to buying through instalments," Hassan said.
"The situation is stable as we reach the second half of Ramadan. All indications refer to market stability and availability of food supplies for the remainder of Ramadan and Eid," said Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, Iqbal Bahadir.
Goods and products are available in large quantities and in an organised manner, Bahadir said.
He credited the co-operation between his ministry and "the Federation of Yemen's Chambers of Commerce and Industry in forming committees to conduct field inspections that monitor the market" for prices and quality, thus protecting the consumer.