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Why $2 cupcakes conquer Arab appetites

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NEWSCOM

(Read caption) A cupcake shop is just one of many American-style stores that has proliferated across Amman over the past five to 10 years.

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• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

For those who’ve never been to Amman, Sugar Daddy’s Bakery might seem an anomaly.

In the heart of the Arab capital, it’s an American bakery that specializes in cupcakes, inspired by the likes of The Magnolia Bakery in New York City, which itself rose to fame, in part, by being featured on the popular TV show “Sex and the City.”

The shop is just one of many American-style stores that has proliferated across Amman over the past five to 10 years. Among many Jordanian elite, what’s American or Western has become what’s cool.

IN PICTURES: National Cupcake Day

“It’s a badge of honor if you can speak English fluently, and with that comes the desire for American products,” says Fadi Jaber, owner and founder of Sugar Daddy’s. Mr. Jaber estimates that about 60 or 70 percent of his Jordanian customers who come into the shop speak English. Most of his workers had to learn English on the job.

Indeed, the hunger for American or American-style products has spread across the region. After opening his shop in Amman in July 2007, Jaber went on to open two more: in Dubai, United Arab Emirates; and in Beirut, Lebanon; in December 2008. While Jaber knew his store would most likely be moderately successful, he says, “The reality has surpassed our forecast.”

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