A range of retailers in the UAE have agreed to cut their prices
for many food and other essential commodity items by up to 40 percent for one
month, a government official said on Tuesday.
Rising living costs in Arab countries are one of the driving
forces behind the revolts that have toppled leaders in Egypt and Tunisia and
are now challenging autocratic regimes in Libya as well as nearby Bahrain and
UAE, the world's third-largest oil exporter, has escaped the
unrest so far. Its relatively small local population has one of the highest
economic outputs per capita globally at over $47,000.
"Major co-operatives, supermarkets and hypermarkets
have agreed to give special offers as part of the national consumer protection
day for the whole month," Hashem al-Nuaimi, head of consumer protection at
the UAE economy ministry, told reporters.
"It will apply to nearly 250 essential commodities for
the month of March. The price decrease will be from 20 to 40 percent," he
Kuwait said in January it would provide its native citizens
with free coupons for food such as rice, eggs and milk for 14 months until
March 2012 as part of a $4.9bn package.
Bahrain's king had promised to spend $117m more on food
subsidies over the next two years than previously planned as well as offering
other handouts before anti-government protests broke out last month.
Food costs in OPEC member UAE climbed last year as global
commodity prices rose, but the fell sharply early this year. They were still
3.9 percent higher in January than a year ago, data showed this week.
UAE inflation is seen accelerating to 2.8 percent this year
as the second-largest Arab economy recovers from the impact of Dubai debt woes.
Consumer price growth stood at a mere 0.9 percent in 2010, which was the lowest
annual level since the Gulf war started in 1990.
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