Arab Today, arab today syrias national tipple arak takes hit
Last Updated : GMT 21:19:19
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

In country's conflict

Syria's National tipple arak takes hit

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Syria's National tipple arak takes hit

Bottles of al-Mimas arak
Homs - Arab Today

Once a source of national pride, Syria's national tipple arak has fallen victim to the country's conflict, with a shrinking customer base, supply routes severed and cheap counterfeits aplenty.
The colourless liquor, made from fermented grapes flavoured with aniseed, is consumed throughout the Levant, mixed with water that turns it a milky white.
Before Syria's conflict began in 2011, the country's market was dominated by two state-run producers, but in the years since their business has struggled and cheap fakes have proliferated.
"At a restaurant, when the arak is fake, I either return the bottle or I give it to my mother, who uses it to wash the windows and chandeliers or to clean the dishes," says Youssef, an engineer from Damascus.
"I use it as a hand sanitiser because the alcohol content is so high!"
State-run firms Al-Mimas and Al-Rayan once made up 85 percent of Syria's arak market, but they now account for less than half of it.
Al-Mimas, based in a Christian village near the central city of Homs, ruled along the coast and in Syria's centre and east.
Al-Rayan controlled the market around Damascus and in the southern provinces, from its base in the Druze city of Sweida.
"Arak in Syria is like whisky in Scotland or wine in France. There's a bottle on every table," said Emile Awad, Al-Mimas's director general.
"We used to sell between 80,000 and 100,000 litres per month -- around 125,000 bottles -- but now it's barely a third of what it was," he lamented.
- Profits slump -
Al-Mimas's profits have plummeted from 60 million Syrian pounds in 2009 ($1.2 million) to 30 million Syrian pounds in 2014 -- a mere $120,000 at the current exchange rate.
Their business has been hit by a sharp devaluation of the national currency, as well as by the consequences of severed supply routes.
Their customer base has also withered as tourism dries up, territory falls to Islamists who ban alcohol and the country's standard of living plummets.
And where demand still exists, the companies are now competing with a flood of new cheap fakes.
A lack of law enforcement and demand for cheaper products from customers with ever less to spend on luxuries has created a vibrant market for the counterfeits.
While authentic arak is made of fermented grapes and 2.5 grams of aniseed per litre, the counterfeit brands use pure alcohol mixed with an aniseed substitute.
"Our product is copied everywhere. People think they're drinking arak, but they're drinking something else," Awad said.
"Fake arak has seriously hurt us. It costs half as much as our arak. The competition isn't about quality -- it's about price."
At a relative's wedding near his arak distillery in Zaidel, Awad had the unpleasant surprise of finding fake bottles of Al-Mimas on the table.
Shocked, he spoke to the groom's father, who told him it was simply a matter of pricing.
- 'It gives me migraine' -
Competition has grown so fierce that the government dropped its arak tax in March from 35 per cent to 20 per cent a bottle.
It also slashed the price of Al-Mimas and Al-Rayan from 675 to 600 Syrian pounds ($2.40) in an effort to compete with the market's newcomers, which sell their product for 300 to 450 Syrian pounds ($1.80).
In Akrameh, an Alawite-majority neighbourhood in the city of Homs, Sleiman Haidar, 67, had just bought a bottle of Abu Khalifa, a new brand, for 250 Syrian pounds ($1).
"I have been drinking arak for 50 years. It used to be delicious, but it doesn't have the same taste today," he admitted.
"I don't buy from Al-Mimas and Al-Rayan because the bottles are so often fake, so I might as well buy a different, cheaper brand," he said.
Abdel Rahman Tarraf, owner of the Pasha liquor store, has made a point to sell only authentic Al-Mimas.
"I refuse to buy the fakes, even if my margin of profit would be 10 times higher. I don't want to lose the trust of my clients or my reputation," he said.
"Fake arak gives me such a terrible migraine, and I swore to myself I would never drink it again," the 41-year-old added.
"I always keep a bottle of real arak in my car since I don't trust the other kinds."
At the Cleopatra restaurant in Homs, Shadi Hammud, dining with two pretty women, described arak as "the drink we serve with family and friends".
"When it's good, we joke, we discuss things in a good mood. But when it's fake, it ruins the whole atmosphere."
Source: AFP

arabstoday
arabstoday

Name *

E-mail *

Comment Title*

Comment *

: Characters Left

Mandatory *

Terms of use

Publishing Terms: Not to offend the author, or to persons or sanctities or attacking religions or divine self. And stay away from sectarian and racial incitement and insults.

I agree with the Terms of Use

Security Code*

Arab Today, arab today syrias national tipple arak takes hit Arab Today, arab today syrias national tipple arak takes hit

 



Arab Today, arab today

Name *

E-mail *

Comment Title*

Comment *

: Characters Left

Mandatory *

Terms of use

Publishing Terms: Not to offend the author, or to persons or sanctities or attacking religions or divine self. And stay away from sectarian and racial incitement and insults.

I agree with the Terms of Use

Security Code*

Arab Today, arab today syrias national tipple arak takes hit Arab Today, arab today syrias national tipple arak takes hit

 



Arab Today, arab today Designer Rania Adel reveals her new collection

GMT 17:59 2017 Monday ,12 June

Designer Rania Adel reveals her new collection
Arab Today, arab today France defies terrorism through tourism

GMT 15:18 2017 Saturday ,20 May

France defies terrorism through tourism
Arab Today, arab today Mai Al-Jeddawi presents décor ideas for Ramadan
View News in Arabic - Business: أخبار الاقتصاد
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today
 
 Arab Today Facebook,arab today facebook  Arab Today Twitter,arab today twitter Arab Today Rss,arab today rss  Arab Today Youtube,arab today youtube  Arab Today Youtube,arab today youtube
arabstoday arabstoday arabstoday arabstoday
arabstoday arabstoday arabstoday
arabstoday
بناية النخيل - رأس النبع _ خلف السفارة الفرنسية _بيروت - لبنان
arabstoday, Arabstoday, Arabstoday