A day in the life of an Afghan baker in the U.A.E

Cooking bread in extreme hot climate, a tough job

“Break an egg, put few drops of cooking oil in a pan and leave it in the sun; after an hour you will be able to have an omelet.”

Those expats who come from cold climates initially face difficulties adjusting to the hot environment of United Arab Emirates (UAE).

However for Abdul Nasir it makes no difference according to him he has been playing with the fire in bakery back in his native country, Afghanistan. He continues to do the same in the UAE.

Afghan baker rolls fresh bread for customers.

The temperature of UAE goes above 45 Celsius with humidity of 35%. It is nearly impossible to stay for few minutes without shelter outdoor in UAE but at this extremely hot climate Afghan Bakery men work not in A/C but near the flames.

Abdul Nasir is now familiar with the hot weather. “Any job is not easy; you have to work hard to feed your family. People do jobs in government and public sectors where they face different kind of situation but here we have our own business. When you are an employee you have to wait for leave permission after a year or two but here we all close relatives are working and if God forbid anything happened to our families back to country we can go within the next day. It is very good to have our own business.” says Nasir.

A young Afghan baker puts chapati in the oven (tandoor).

Another baker, Abdul Karim also works in the same shop, he says “before closing the shop we make ready the wet floor for bread. We put floor in a big tub, put water and mix it with an electronic mixture machine, when it is ready we make small piece for the bread in the morning.”

When asked that how many kinds of bread or Naan he knows to cook and is there any particular flavor or quality which the people like to eat? He says there are two types of bread one is called Naan-roti and second is known as Chapati  but if the customers want to make it special, we put cheese on it which makes it very tasty. This kind of bread is 1 AED expensive then the normal bread. Most of families buy it in the morning time for breakfast of their school kids. Both types are consumed by Asians and Middle Eastern people- Arabs, Pakistanis, Afghanistan, Indians and Iranian constitute a large chunk of the customers. Karim says,

Work flow and delivery

Bakers cover about 3km to 5km radius area to deliver bread. “Working people can’t visit our shop to buy the bread so we deliver bread to their doors. In Afghanistan, we send our children to buy household stuffs but it is very different in UAE. Here children are busy at schools and their parents are working so they even do not have time for grocery shopping. Three people from our staff does the delivery and rest of them work in the shop. We need at least three stay at shop, one of them prepares and measures the bread, second one cooks it on fire (put the bread in tandoor) and third one is the cashier who collects the money and deal with the customers.” says Karim.

Fresh dough balls ready for baking.

Expired bread

“When there is any expired bread we gather it and sell it to the cattle merchants. They give it to their cattle. It makes the cattle very healthy and increases the milking power. The dry bread is consumed mostly by cows and buffalos. Sheep and goats are also fan of eating dry bread,” says Abdul Nasir who owns a bakery shop in Sharjah for over 18 years.

He says there is no sufficient profit selling the dry bread but we can’t through the bread in dust bin as well.

Abdul Nasir wants to extend his business across Dubai in coming years. He is willing to call his cousins and close relatives to join him in bakery business.

By: Qurban


2 thoughts on “A day in the life of an Afghan baker in the U.A.E

  1. Excellent article its a reminder how some people have to struggle in extreme conditions but at the same time from the tone of this article i feel that they are happy in what they do which also a good lesson to some who are not appreciative of what they have.


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