Prices nearly double

Shortage of Egyptian-made shisha tobacco raises prices in Samawah

SAMAWAH — Cafes in Samawah have reported a sharp increase in the price of Egyptian-made apple-flavored shisha tobacco resulting from a country-wide shortage attributed to disruptions in Egyptian factories.

Iraqi tobacco merchants report the shisha variety has become scarce across the country. In response, experienced smokers who prefer the robust flavor of the apple blend are exploring alternatives.

To address the shortage, local blenders, colloquially known as “al-tabakhin,” are creating new mixtures to satisfy the tastes of enthusiasts and maintain the traditional smoking experience.

Haider Hussein, a wholesaler, noted both a shortage and a price hike for this shisha type, with costs escalating from 11,000 ($8.40) to 20,000 ($15.27) Iraqi dinars. “While all types of shisha are available, we are experiencing a shortfall in the Egyptian apple variety,” Hussein stated.

The shortage is largely due to a halt in exports from Egypt, where factory maintenance reportedly has paused production. As a result, traders from neighboring governorates visit Muthanna and its capital, Samawah, to purchase large quantities of remaining stock at higher prices. Aside from Egyptian shisha, Hussein’s business also offers varieties from the UAE and Turkey but avoids Iranian shisha due to quality issues related to the smoking ban and high taxes.

Salah Al-Yasiri, a local café owner, also spoke about the difficulties in obtaining Egyptian apple-flavored tobacco. “We face problems in meeting customer demand,” Al-Yasiri said, noting the strong preference for this flavor among older customers.

Al-Yasiri has observed that younger customers now prefer special tobacco mixes blended by hookah experts, known as cooks, with each cafe offering a unique taste and quality.