Originally from Algeria, 67-year-old Omar Chabane is a former senior paper industry officer who has served the sector for more than 35 years. He now shares his time with his spouse Bahia in Paris, where she lives, and lecturing at a business school in Algiers.
“In Algeria, tissue products have evolved quickly over the past few years. Not long ago, Algerians were prone to using water rather than hygienic paper grades. But things have been moving fast. My partner, Bahia, is well known for her strict sense of cleanliness and tidiness, which is sometimes close to obsession. We have lived separately for 12 years. There is no crack in our relationship, which has lasted for 35 years, but due to health reasons Bahia is following a strict treatment in France. When she visits her home country, I will have stored up on all the necessary tissue items for her. Despite my organisation, her first task is always to order the hygienic products. “When we go out shopping, Bahia observes that the country has changed fast: there are more tissue products available everywhere. She is happy about this and the fact that tissue papers are more and more replacing the use of water, which was once the tradition in Muslim countries.
“We go to the local convenience stores to buy the tissue products we need. My wife doesn’t compare the price of the tissue products to France, but rather the quality, referring to what she is used to buying in her usual Lidl supermarket in Paris. She is quite particular about her tissue products and finds that the comparable tissue grades available locally in Algeria are not top grade quality, particularly those that are imported.
“When we go to Algiers, Bahia is always stricken by the sight of youngsters, very often under fifteen years old, who sell napkins and tissue hankies along streets. She finds this unacceptable and refuses to buy tissue products in these places, whatever the price is. She believes in buying in big shops or supermarkets to be sure of quality.
“Imported miscellaneous brands are proposed to potential clients at petrol stations too. Most of the tissue items are coming from the Middle East or Asian countries.
“We both prefer white tissue articles and we avoid the coloured items, perhaps this taste is due to our age. We buy tissue products on a weekly basis to cover our requirements and then stay more at home together.
“Local converters supply their tissue products to big stores and supermarkets and their sale channels are well controlled. We prefer to buy local tissue products such as “Awane”, which we like both for its quality and price as well as its white colour.
“When it is the summer season here, it is very hot. In our Ramadan month, I am also fasting. The Ramadan month is a good opportunity for us to receive visits from friends and family members as it is the tradition during this month to share a moment of happiness and treat our guests with mint tea. On the table the white tissue napkins are now replacing traditional table cloths.”