Jordan And Egypt: The Bread Experiences

As most people know by now, there is a massive shortage of bread in Egypt these days with reports of actual deaths as many Egyptians line up in long bread queues. Mubarak has even declared a sort of martial law on subsidized bread, by ordering the army to increase production and aid in the distribution of bread in order to eradicate the queues. The images and news reports on this very “basic” issue has taken me aback. It’s so strange how bread is the life force of this region, especially for the poor, where bread is the primary source of food, not to mention the cheapest. The experience is very, very similar to that of Jordan. While our population may not be as massive as our bigger Arab brother to the south-west, thus limiting the possibility of queues of this magnitude in the case of a shortage, the reaction by the people would be very similar. Attempts to increase bread prices in the 1990’s by the Kabariti government lead to infamous riots by the tens of thousands in Kerak, with the army (being mostly Keraki) failing to provide any sense of crowd control.

What is also similar is the experience in socioeconomic disparities; what the rich can afford in Egypt (unsubsidized and expensive bread) as opposed to what the majority cannot. The same goes for Jordan, but it translates in different ways.

That similarity was personified for me in an interesting advertisement I noticed the other day in Al-Ghad newspaper. It’s for a new service where you can call and order bread to be delivered right to your doorstep, but only if you are a Visa or Master Card holder (for how else would you pay for such a service, coins?!). Naturally, the service is also only available to residents of the wealthier West Amman.

The clipped green headline above is an Arab proverb, translating roughly to: “Leave the bread to the baker” i.e. let the specialist handle it.

It’s kind of funny and sad at the same time I suppose. I would personally never use such a service but I know that some how, some way, this service will probably be successful, even with a bakery in nearly every neighbourhood in Amman. I wish that wasn’t the case and I can only hope that people begin to realize that it may be services like this that contribute to the growing gap between rich and poor; a gap not only widened by seemingly inevitable economics but the actions and choices of people as well. But I can only hope.

After all: hope is the poor man’s bread.


  • Why shouldn’t you use such a service if you can afford it? Such services provide jobs. So I would say, the more rich people spend on this kind of luxury, the better for the poor.

  • I don’t really like the idea of getting bread delivered, but in Toronto I used to use a service that would let you pick your groceries online, and have them delivered. since I always buy the same things, I can just save my list and keep reusing it, not have to sit in traffic, spend 30 minutes roaming a grocery store, 10 minutes lining up at the cash, and then have to drag 20 plastic bags. Since there were multiple services such as this, the other advantage is that you could instantly compare prices and sales meaning you’ll end up saving the extra cost of the delivery anyway.

  • When it comes to the delivery service, I think it is fine when cash is allowed, it isn’t something that would widen a gap that has millions of other reasons. paying with credit cards is kind of stupid.

    Oh those days, in which Jordanians used to shout for their bread, Allah Yirham.

  • Hope we don’t have Hunger Revolution soon, but I don’t see the government is doing anything about it. When Egypt raise the bread prices in the laet 1970’s and I used to live there, there were major demonstrrations and poor people were just destoryong people’s cars and shops, they just cant afford any raise in a neccessity such as bread in Egypt that feeds 70 million people, but that was 30 years ago, now things are different, they are worse!

  • Well, Well ,Well … Isn’t jordan turning to Dubai 2 ?
    I mean let’s face it , Only the rich are capable of living in those impossibly expensive expenses .
    Gaz , Solar , Water , FOOD .. EVERYTHING!
    Now they’re doing this to serve the rich side of people that aren’t even feeling the whole economic problem in the country .. We are screwed !
    And no thanks , I’d get my bread while doing my evening 5 min walk .

  • Its amazing how pampering is considered a good living!!
    If you want to be pampered and can afford it, go to a tropical resort for a week, but this isn’t a way to live, even busy scientists or scholars can give 10 minutes away for bread buying!
    Is it a visa/mastercard product? or some bakery and sponsored by those?
    How would it be successful? bakeries are all over amman and I never heard even the most complaining people having problems with getting their bread /Excluding Sofara at Ramadan for Atayef/.
    As for giving jobs by such businesses, it helps on the short run until waiters come to serve a meal worth of their monthly salaries.
    Such business are smart when they solve problems, these are only entertaining for a few.

  • This is certainly bad but I just read today that basic food prices in Yemen have gone up 400% over the last year. So I guess this is going on everywhere.

    It’s simple. Populations are going up. But we can’t make more farm land–especially in Jordan–so the food supply is maxed out. I don’t see a way around this very grave problem.

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