UAE | General

Grocery closure changes look of Abu Dhabi city

Residents now must drive their cars kilometres to the nearest supermarket

  • By Binsal Abdul Kader, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 17:55 January 3, 2013
  • Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The closure of many grocery stores has changed the outlook of the Abu Dhabi city.

Many corners of the city are looking deserted after the closure of the stores, dismayed residents have told Gulf News.

“There were four groceries within 50 metres of my building near Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank off Airport Road; all of them were closed for renovation and the area look deserted,” said Adnan Habib, an expatriate.

Apart from providing the convenient service, the groceries kept the area alive, he said. “It was much better by all means when groceries were open,” Habib said. “Needless to say about the inconvenience caused by their closure; I and my family were depending on their home delivery every day for small things,” he explained. Now he has to take his car to the nearest supermarket to buy anything.

“Although the closure was meant for improving the image of the city, it could have been done in a more professional manner. This has caused inconvenience to all residents — we are waiting for the solutions,” Habib said.

Roel Amora, a Filipino engineer, said the city looked completely different after the closure of groceries. “Ground floors of many buildings are looking totally empty or deserted. Otherwise there would be a lot of people near a grocery,” he said.

The owner of a closed store said whenever he opened it for disposing of certain items, customers thronged the store. “Many people are rushing to the store, complaining that they find it very difficult to get small things,” said M.K. Ashraf, partner of Al Amani Corner Grocery in Madinat Zayed.

“I am opening the store often to return many items to the distributors. Then people start coming and complaining about their hardships,” Ashraf, an Indian said.

He closed his 20 square metre shop for good as he was told that the new model shop should have more than 30 square metres. “I and two partners did not decide what to do. We are thinking of many options. If nothing works, will go back to India,” Ashraf said.

Many among the 1,300 grocery stores and small supermarkets in Abu Dhabi city and the outskirts were closed down by Monday night at the end of a deadline to renovate the stores. Only a small number of stores had already completed the renovation before the December 31 deadline as per the new standards laid down by Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority in mid-2011. The authority did not comment on the issue as of the press time on Thursday. So proper figures on stores closed for good or those under renovation were not available.

Many small stores were closed down for good due to space and financial constraints to meet new standards. Others closed down for renovation and are not sure when to complete the process due to several technical reasons.

One reason is the heavy load of renovation works with the consultants and contactors approved by the authority. The stores had to get the renovation done by those particular professionals but most of the store owners waited and watched until last minute. “Many of them expected an extension to the deadline so they approached the consultants and contractors last month [December] only. Now they all are too busy with many works so it will take time to complete the renovation of many groceries,” a store owner said.

Comments (4)

  1. Added 16:32 January 4, 2013

    Why couldn't this follow almost every other law that is being passed for different businesses, i.e, license will not be renewed unless renovated? Within 2013, every meets their deadline, contractors don't get overloaded and consumers have options of at least some or the other supermarket being open all the time.

    Naz, Auh, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 16:03 January 4, 2013

    The new rule of bigger space should have been imposed on new groceries. Existing small groceries should have been asked to renovate only. If there is no bigger space in existing building, then they have no other option but to relocate or shut down... Which seems unfair to me!

    Uzair, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 13:31 January 4, 2013

    Indeed very sad, both for the store keepers and the customers. I think they should have been given more time and must have done professionally persuading the renovation of the stores one by one. Indeed running a business is not easy. Now these people have nurtured their business and have perhaps succeeded in it, and then the sudden changes are forced upon them. Especially for an expatriate small business owners, it can be very tiresome experience.

    Agniyah Xec, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 12:49 January 4, 2013

    Instead of closing the groceries, these papa / mama stores or rather convenient stores should have been given list of products approved by the authorities for daily consumption eg dairy / newspapers / snacks / confectionary etc similar to ADNOC. In the process, as a simple math on an average of 3 individuals per store (inc delivery boys) will cost 3900 individuals their livelihood / loss of employment. The authorities need to also take a notch higher in conducting surprise store check wesp., hypermarket chains on a) pricing b) freshness of veg / fruits / poultry /meat, etc) c) expiries d) and most importantly on the hot food served. I've witnessed many outlets use products which has few days left for expiry (one may call it fit for consumption - or is it re-cycling) but what is the guarantee all stores follow the guidelines? There needs to be a stringent check on the hot food sold and lab test need to be done at random. Besides, pricing on the hot food in these hypermarket match the dine-in restaurants menu.

    M. Rodrigues, AUH, United Arab Emirates

Gulf News