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[November 19, 2012]
Jabal Hussein businesses incur losses over riots, protests
AMMAN, Nov 19, 2012 (Jordan Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Fuel-subsidy riots over the past few days in Jabal Hussein, one of Amman's busiest commercial areas, were a blow to businesses in the area, according to shop owners.
Store owners and employees were forced to ask customers to leave their stores immediately as they rushed to close their shops, fearing that they would be damaged during last week's demonstrations over the lifting of fuel subsidies.
Noting that their sales have been on the decline over the past few weeks and they hardly make profits, owners of shops in Jabal Hussein said the demonstrations in the area only worsened the situation.
Last week, security forces prevented demonstrators from blocking the Interior Ministry Circle, which prompted them to relocate to nearby Jabal Hussein.
"Protests in Jabal Hussein, which is a very strategic and vibrant commercial area, were annoying," Samer Shammout, manager of a garment shop in the locality, told The Jordan Times over the phone on Sunday.
"Demonstrations took place in the area on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and these are the days of the week when our sales pick up," Shammout said.
Mahmoud Abu Dhabeh, who also owns a clothing store in Jabal Hussein, noted that demonstrations over the past few days used to start at around 6:00pm or 7:00pm, forcing shops to close.
"Most of our sales take place between 7:00pm and 11:00pm at night. The timing of the demonstrations was fatal to our businesses. When we heard that protesters were approaching, we closed down our shops," Abu Dhabeh told The Jordan Times Sunday.
"Shopkeepers feared that demonstrators running away from the police would take shelter in their stores, which would have been a disaster," he said.
Akram Hassoun, who works in a garment store in Jabal Hussein, said protests in the vicinity spread panic and fear among shoppers.
"We have had no sales at all over the past few days," Hassoun noted.
Motaz Jalajel, who has an accessories shop in the area, shared similar concerns.
"We reject these demonstrations; they will ruin our businesses. Protesters can peacefully demonstrate against the government's decision to lift fuel subsidies, but they should not do it in commercial areas and affect other peoples' livelihood," Jalajel said.
Shammout, who voiced rejection of any acts of vandalism, noted that "many shops were unable to pay their employees' salaries over the past few days as there were no sales... It is true that people are going through difficult economic conditions, but we have to be patient and not destroy what we have." Businesses elsewhere in the capital also said they were affected by the violence over the past few days.
"Demonstrations in Jabal Hussein and other locations in Amman affected my sales although my shop is in Tlaa Al Ali," Helmi Ahmad said on Sunday.
"We want to make a living. People can protest, but they should not create an atmosphere of tension and fear that will make people afraid of even going out," the clothing store owner said over the phone.
Ahlam Sabah, who lives in Zarqa, 22km east of the capital, said she did not go to downtown Amman over the weekend to buy the materials she needs for her business as an accessory designer as she heard the shops were closed because of demonstrations.
"I had some orders to deliver, but I couldn't because I was unable to buy the material I needed," Sabah told The Jordan Times over the phone.
"Protesters should not be selfish; people have businesses to run and they want to make ends meet".
___ (c)2012 the Jordan Times (Amman, Jordan) Visit the Jordan Times (Amman, Jordan) at www.jordantimes.com Distributed by MCT Information Services
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