COVID-19 takes toll on Egyptian lovers on Valentine’s Day

Manar Mustafa, a young Egyptian lady, did not celebrate Valentine’s Day the way she always did, due to anti-COVID-19 preventive measures and tough economic circumstances.

“I could not buy a gift for my husband this year due to high prices,” the 24-year-old wife told Xinhua as she left a gift shop in Giza Province, near the capital Cairo.

Mustafa added that she only bought a rose for her husband, revealing that he will definitely appreciate it.

“He is sure that I love him …, love is the thing that gives value to gifts, not the opposite,” the young lady said, noting that she told her husband not to buy her any gifts amid the current economic situation.

It is the same situation for Youssef Tariq, a 27-year-old worker at a restaurant in Cairo, who agreed with his fiancee not to go out to celebrate their Valentine’s Day this year.

“The Valentine’s Day is a global holiday, during which people express love for their beloved ones by giving gifts … (however,) expressing love can also happen with words, and this is what I’m going to do this year,” Tariq told Xinhua.

Tariq said he and his fiancee agreed to observe the event at her family’s home without any celebrations, adding that COVID-19-related economic circumstances made it difficult for them to buy gifts.

Unlike other Western holidays, “Holiday of Love,” as it is called in Arabic, has spread widely across Egypt, despite being viewed by many conservative people as a taboo.

The season for romance is widely observed in Egypt, when lovers, friends, and family members seize the festivity to express their love and happy feelings.

However, the deteriorating conditions caused by coronavirus, as well as the government’s anti-COVID-19 preventive measures, hampered the event’s celebrations in the most populous Arab country.

Egypt has registered a total of 173,202 COVID-19 cases, including 9,935 deaths and 134,638 recoveries.

Although 30-year-old Ali Fathy bought expensive gifts for the girl he engaged to two weeks ago, he said this year’s occasion is not really happy.

“Unlike in previous years, owners of gift shops did not decorate their storefronts with red gifts and roses,” Fathy said, who also complained about the skyrocketing prices of gifts.

The decline of gift purchases has negatively affected gift stores, which consider the Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to sell more goods.

“I have been in the business for 17 years, and I can say that this is the worst season for me in the past decade,” Osama Ibrahim, an owner of a gift and flower shop, told Xinhua that he is not satisfied with the sales on this Valentine’s Day.

“Prices did not go up remarkably, but people cannot buy because of the economic conditions they have been going through,” the middle-aged noted, adding that he hoped the Day of Cupid would help him compensate for the losses he inflicted since the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Valentine’s Day is a very important occasion for flower and gift shops because purchase orders normally rise on this day, Mossaad Farid, another owner of a flower shop in Giza, told Xinhua, adding that he bought large quantities of local and imported roses in preparation for the lovers’ day.

“I am not satisfied with the turnout. I expected it to be much better,” he complained, attributing the decline to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and the precautionary measures that the government has been applying.

Farid used to employ five workers, but under the coronavirus-related crisis, he was forced to lay off three of them.