At the River Nile Market in Oakland, which is slightly bigger than a city bus, the shelves are crammed with little bits of Yemen, Sudan, Egypt and Lebanon.
Cans of fruit, meat and juice carry Arabic script as well as English lettering. Glass buckets hold spices – cumin, nutmeg, cinnamon and za’atar, a mixture of herbs and spices popular in the Middle East. Burlap bags of basmati rice spill into the aisles. Three water pipes, or hookahs, perch on the counter on top of rows of folded male head scarves, or keffiyas.
Ramsey Mohammed, the owner’s son, stands behind the glass counter at 3105 Telegraph Ave, chatting with customers in Arabic and English. His father, Abdullah Mohammed, originally from Yemen, opened the market in the early 1990’s.