Egyptians enjoy return of Ramadan street feasts

STORY: Communal meals in which hundreds of people pack around long tables to break their fast during the holy month of Ramadan have returned to Egypt's streets after being widely suspended for the past two years due to COVID-19 restrictions.

In the working-class Cairo neighbourhood of Matariya, residents sat back-to-back along two tables running down a narrow street festooned with balloons, bunting and banners as they enjoyed a meal of barbecued meat, rice and pickles.

Evening street meals are organised by charities for the poor, while others, like the one in Matariya, are run by local communities which pool food donations.

"The Ramadan spirit is back," said Haitham Adel, an organiser of the Matariya meal. "People are back to eating together without being worried."

Ahmed al-Bardisi, the organiser of a daily charity meal in Giza, across the Nile from central Cairo, said job losses during the coronavirus pandemic had limited food donations.

Though many Egyptians are struggling with accelerating inflation, he said such donations had recovered this year.

Egypt has been hit by successive waves of COVID-19 infections and imposed a nighttime curfew that coincided with Ramadan in 2020. Most restrictions have now been lifted.