Karak tea, the informal national drink of the United Arab Emirates, has recently seen a substantial price increase of up to 25% due to inflation. Although it was long-priced at 1 dirham (30 U.S. cents), tea sellers in Dubai say they have no choice but to raise the price to 1.5 dirhams (40 U.S. cents).
“Everything got more expensive for us — milk, sugar, tea bags. Even the price of cups doubled,” – said Moeen, a tea seller from the one-room storefront in Satwa.
For almost two decades, karak tea, which is made from sugar, dehydrated milk and cardamom-incused tea, has remained approximately the same price until the recent price increase.
The annual inflation rate in Dubai skyrocketed to a record 7.1% last month, with gas prices up nearly 80% from January to July, which is a bit of a shock for a wealthy petrostate such as Dubai.
Though a cup of karak tea may seem like a simple pleasure, it is traditionally a working person’s drink and is integral to the local culture and history.
“Karak was born from necessity,” said Moaswes, a karak tea scholar. “It’s what the economic situation allowed for decades ago.”
Local residents fear that if the price of karak tea goes any higher, it will be unaffordable to the working class people who invented it.