Thursday, December 20, 2007

Gas Stoves Seized in Mina

Thursday, 20 December 2007
By Adel Al-Malki

Saudi Gazette
ARAFAT - Civil Defense personnel here seized some 200 gas stoves used by food vendors for cooking outdoors.
The stoves were brought in on motorbikes.
Many of the cooks, who use the stoves, arrived at the holy sites a week before the Haj to avoid being caught. It is an underground business, literally.

They bury their stoves and utensils underground to be dug up once the pilgrims arrive in Mina.
Mohammad Shawi, an African, said it is a family business. Many of the cooks come with their family members, including children, who help sell the food in many parts of the tent city.

Badly prepared and packaged food carries health hazards for pilgrims that those vendors seem to ignore. More than 5,000 bad meals were seized over the last two days in Mina.
A girl selling sauteed chicken for SR15, said it was fresh and clean despite its terrible tastse.

"We bought raw chickens five days ago and submerged them in ice to keep them fresh until they are cooked," said Khadijah Hawsawi, 12. "We only cook the food in the morning of the same day it is sold. At least a day-to-day business."

An African female cook, who has set-up business under the bridge that leads to Arafat, sells chicken, rice and sandwiches to pilgrims at high prices.
Her gas stoves and utensils are strewn all over the places.

Other food vendors sell sweets, fruits and fresh juice that have been exposed for long hours to flies and other insects.

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