ISLAMABAD  - The trend of arranging outdoor Iftar gatherings with friends and family is gaining popularity in twin cities as many restaurants and international food chains offer affordable deals during Ramadan.

Local hotels, restaurants and food chains attract the general public with family deals that combine both the food and the ambiance for celebrating Iftar parties.

The concept of arranging Iftar gatherings at homes is now turning into outdoor Itar dinners in a way to share with families and friends. “Iftar gatherings are a way to stay in touch with family members and promote kinship,” said Hina, a university student.

 “The atmosphere and gatherings encourage us to arrange Iftar parties at restaurants, It’s all about going out on Iftar, sitting with friends and have memorable moments,” she said.

These Iftar parties also serve as recreational activity and give people a break from daily routine.

Besides family gatherings, outdoor Iftar parties are also emerging as a potential business for hotels and restaurants for getting maximum profits.

Such arrangements serve as a social event for people and also satisfy their concern of status symbol, said an official of a local event management company.

Keeping in view the current situation of load shedding and rising temperature, it is difficult for women to prepare Iftar at homes and many families prefer to have Iftar at hotels and restaurants.

The hotel and restaurants offer special Ramadan packages for families ranging from affordable rates to expensive ones depending on the variety and quality of food items. On the time of Iftar, the people hardly get space to sit outdoor in restaurants, which is reflective of the popularity of the trend of outdoor Iftar parties.

Ramazan bazaars fail to deliver: Sasta Ramazan Bazaars have failed to deliver relief to citizens of the twin cities.

Total 18 Ramazan Bazaars were established in District Rawalpindi out of which eight Bazaars were set up in Rawalpindi City and Cantonment areas of Rawalpindi.

Eight Ramazan bazaars of Rawalpindi city and Cantonment Board area are at Murree Road near Nawaz Sharif Park, Committee Chowk, Haideri Chowk, Model Bazaar Liaquat Bagh, Chungi No.22, Khawaja Corporation Adiala Road, Chur Chowk and Gulzar-e-Quaid. Though most of the kitchen items are available in Ramazaailed to deliver any relief to masses and could not attract the citizens. Most of the people were also complaining of sub-standard food items at the Satsa Bazaar.  Whereas the USC subsidise shops have insufficient stock of sugar and flour.

Likewise, during a visit to the different Utility Stores in the city here the other day, it was observed that most of the outlets were facing shortage of sugar and gram flour etc like items, which has common usage. The other commodities at these outlets also did not have any countable difference with the prices in open market. People were mostly visited to get sugar and flour on subsidised prices, but returned disappointed, as the Utility Stores management could not arrange sufficient supply at the outlets.

The citizens alleged that some managers of the utility store corporation outlets think it was ideal time for them to earn maximum profit by supplying the subsidised sugar to retailers in open market. The concerned managers of USC stores were pretending shortage of sugar, and selling the commodity in open markets.

According to DCO Rawalpindi Saqib Zafar, the district government was trying to control the prices of the commodities at Sasta Ramazan Baazars to extend maximum relief to the masses in this holy month. Meat and poultry products are available on subsidised rates in different Sasta Baazars, he added.

About the selling of substandard food items, he said special teams constituted to check the quality and rates of food are conducting raids on daily basis.

The DCO said ‘Sasta Ramazan Bazaars’ have been held to provide relief to the citizens on the special directives of Chief Minister Punjab Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif.

Solid steps for the provision of quality products to the consumers have been made by the Rawalpindi district administration, he said.

DCO Rawalpindi Saqib Zafar informed that sufficient quantity of subsidised flour is available in Sasta Ramazan Bazaars.

DCO told that fruits and vegetables are being supplied to the consumers on controlled rates and the rates in Sasta Ramazan Bazaars are less to the open market. He said ten kg subsidised flour bag is being supplied at Rs 230 while the sugar is available at Rs 50 per kg.