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SUDAN: Chilled warehouses offer escape from heat during Ramadan

August 19, 2010 |  8:40 am

DSC00145 (3)In an unusual way to escape the heat during the holy month of Ramadan, people in the Sudanese coastal city of Port Sudan pay $3 to rest in air-conditioned fruit warehouses from morning until dusk, saying it's the best way to endure the sweltering days of fasting.

The idea has become profitable for many fruit wholesalers, who push fruit aside to house more people. 

With less fruit available, and with the rainy season turning roads to mud and delaying new deliveries, prices rise in some parts of the country. In the capital, Khartoum, people also slip into warehouses, but they don’t pay as they do in Port Sudan.

Abdulrahman Badawi Alhussein, a banana-warehouse owner in Khartoum says, "I don’t charge them. They are free to sleep here. I myself sleep inside too. It is unfair and unethical to take money from them during this holy month of Ramadan."

Muslims fast from dawn to dusk during Ramadan, often looking to repose to take their minds off their hunger.

Port Sudan is one of the hottest parts of the country. It faces frequent water shortages, despite new dams, and electricity also is unreliable, though there are plans to import power from neighboring Ethiopia. In July, 12 people in Port Sudan died of heat-related illness as temperatures soared to 135 degrees Fahrenheit.

In some Arabian countries, such as Saudi Arabia, fatwas were ordered to allow some worshipers to break their fasts, in the belief that that could help them cope with the heat. But that is unlikely to happen in Sudan. Some Sudanese escape to resorts, but most can't afford that, so they simmer and sweat and wait for the moon.

A young porter, who gave his name as Alsadig, explained why he slept in a fruit warehouse in Khartoum: "The owner is such nice guy, he let us sleep. I don’t have air-conditioning," he said. "I spend from four to five hours, but when it is hot I spend more time."

-- Alsanosi Ahmed in Khartoum

Photo: A man sleeping in a cool banana warehouse. Credit: Alsanosi Ahmed