From the news desk

CT comes alive with Ramadan markets

Cape Town entrepreneurs are tapping into the consumer culture of Ramadan and Eid, with shopping festivals in the city on the increase. With the Mother City’s diverse and vibrant Muslim community, businesses are marketing products that will appeal to the needs of those fasting in the holy month. Cape Town is taking lessons from countries like the UAE, Malaysia and Indonesia, where Ramadan shopping culture is big business.

After much success in the bustling metropolis of Johannesburg over the past years, the Eid Shopping Festival will now hit Cape Town. The ESF has been growing exponentially over the past few years, from its humble beginnings of 10 000 visitors at its inception in 2011, to expecting over 80 000 visitors this year at its Joburg event. The festival attracts both national and international exhibitors and visitors. The festival will be held from 2 -5 June at The Lookout, V&A Waterfront.

“It’s humbling to see the growth ESF has experienced over the past six years. ESF has now positioned itself as a premium shopping expo, attracting visitors not only from across the country but from neighbouring African countries and from the likes of Dubai and Syria,” said Nisha Steenkamp, organiser of the festival.

However with the promise to showcase the latest designer Islamic fashion straight from catwalks around the world, this event is targeting a high-end market. While the ‘glitz and glamour’ of designer Islamic wear appeals to the quintessential Joburg shopper, whether this will lure the very different Cape Town consumer remains uncertain.

For the bargain-hunter, there is the pre-Ramadan market, taking place in Cape Town this weekend. It’s organised by an NGO called I Deserve It, which aims to create entrepreneurial skills for underprivileged people to empower themselves. The market day is a platform to market home-based businesses, many of them established as a means of vital income. The event takes place at Athlone Civic Centre on Saturday from 10am till 6pm.

“Those that cannot afford shops and rental, this is the perfect opportunity for them to trade,” said organiser Amina Adams.

The market will showcase everything from clothing, bedding, accessories and food.

“We are calling it a pre-Ramadan market. So we want to offer everything related to Ramadan. We have abayas, thoubs, scarves, perfumes and other foods for Ramadan,” added Adams.

Young fashionistas looking for high-fashion items for Eid will be spoilt for choice at the Pre Ramadan Expo, hosted by designer labels Street Line Apparel and Double Perfection. This expo serves to promote local clothing and jewellery designers, many of them who have cleverly marketed themselves on social media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat.

These designers are incredibly talented and part of the up-coming designer labels trying to enter the mainstream.  Fashion lovers can expect trendier items that will appeal to a much younger market. The expo takes place at Oaks Room in Campground Road in Newlands from 11am to 5.30pm.

For the individual that requires more than just the sartorial pleasures, there is the Wellness Market Day on Sunday 29th May. Organisers say the event aims to prepare Muslim women mentally and spiritually for the month of Ramadan. The event takes place at Taronga road masjid hall from 10am to 4pm and entry is R30.

“We are going to have talks on focusing in salah. Ramadan is coming up and we want to get conscious and aware of this month,” said wellness coach Amienabie Harnekar.

Attendees can expect a range of talks focused on nutrition, lifestyle, exercise, wellness and even Zumba classes.

“It’s about talking, learning, growing, sharing and networking. It’s going to be fun,” added Harnekar.

While some of these events speak less to the culture of Ramadan, it’s still interesting to see how the marketing of Ramadan products has evolved. Now it’s no longer just about taking advantage of the Ramadan specials at your local Pick ‘n Pay or waiting for the Eid range to be in store at Woolworths or Edgars.

The market for products that cater to Muslim sensibilities is greatly expanding. And it’s not just focused on food for iftar, as locally designed fashion now takes its place with Islamic wear entering the mainstream.

The current generation of Muslims is different from those in the past, says one trend analyst.

“The market is growing and it makes good business sense for companies to start [marketing toward them] now.”

“Islamic-inspired products can succeed by focusing on the broader appeal of the religion’s ethics.” VOC


  1. The eid shopping festival at the lookout is a disorganised mess… been outside since 10, with no response other than we are not ready yet!f

  2. slm when is the pre eid market at wynberg civic , toronga road , and belgravia kanala… much appreciated.

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