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UAE parents worry over school costs as cost of living rises

ABU DHABI // The rising cost of living is preventing many parents from buying school equipment for the new term as well as gifts for their children for Eid Al Adha.

Parents say that because of increases in the cost of school supplies and school fees, buying Eid treats will have to be put on hold and in some cases postponed indefinitely.

“This month is going to be a tough one,” said Kamal Abdulsalam, a 35-year-old Jordanian father of two. “Preparing for Eid and school is not an easy task and I’m not sure if our budget will allow us to complete both tasks.”

Mr Abdulsalam said that the cost of school supplies increased each year – especially items branded with cartoon characters.

He said buying equipment, as well as clothes for his children for Eid, would cost him Dh1,200 – an expense he struggled to meet.

Another parent said she had decided to spend less on Eid shopping to meet back-to-school expenses.

“Instead of buying two outfits for my three kids I will buy only one as we need to buy school supplies and pay school fees,” said Rula Al Bari from Syria, who lives in Fujairah.

“I have been saving for the past three months to handle this situation. Our income is low as my husband is the only one who has a job. He supports the whole family, therefore saving and cutting costs are the best option.”

Ms Al Bari said that she could not afford to buy top-quality bags because of the prices.

“Our budget only allows us to buy the low-priced bags that won’t last for long, especially with my five-year-old boy who needs a new bag for each term.”

Rawan Fawaz, a 25-year-old Palestinian, said she would delay back-to-school shopping until classes began because she had already spent this month’s income on Eid shopping. Two of her children, Hassan, 8, and Rayan, 6, start school on August 28.

“For the first week, it is OK if they don’t wear the uniform. Once we have the September budget I will buy the uniforms.”

A standard pair of trousers costs about Dh80, as does the shirt, she said.On top of this, there is the cost of equipment.

“Every year my children ask for new schoolbags and stationery. The bags get damaged from year to year because they get thrown on the floor.”

With a third son starting school in 18 months, she is concerned that prices will be higher by then.

“I hope I will find a good job opportunity by then,” she said.

Mohammed El Attar, a Dubai car company worker, said any gifts his children have asked for, or stationery items and electronics for school, he would buy before Eid.

The family usually waits until classes begin to plan purchases but this year they need to space out expenditures because Mr El Attar’s elder son’s school fees had increased.

“The prices of electronic items are always increasing. I’m the only member in my family who is earning so I have to tell my son and two daughters that they need to wait,” said the Egyptian.

Most malls and hypermarkets have started displaying back-to-school offers that included study essentials and food supplies.

Deepak Gajrani, manager of a Fujairah hypermarket, said many parents were shopping for school supplies early to take advantage of discounts.

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(via The National)