The fish section at the Waterfront Market in Deira has been operational for a month and is slowly approaching full occupancy. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Dubai’s new mall-like fish market — the Waterfront Market — has been open for close to a month now and is slowly approaching full occupancy, however, vendors are still airing their concerns on a number of issues.

Though the state-of-the-art market with world-class facilities is a world apart from the old fish market, vendors say they would prefer lower costs and fewer restrictions over enhanced facilities.

Abbas Ali paid a total of Dh3,500 per month, which included overhead costs including the sponsorship fees and rent at the old market, but at the new market, he pays almost double that amount and a set of restrictions means he is not doing enough business to cover the costs.

“Apart from the rent, which is understandably higher due to better facilities, I am paying Dh10,000 per year for cold storage and Dh2,250 per month for cleaning and electricity. I also paid Dh500 for the uniform, which is totally unreasonable,” said Ali.


Another problem Ali and his fellow vendors are facing is the restriction in selling loose fish.

“I deal in King Fish, Hammour and other big fish and I have literally had no business since I took up the stall 10 days back. My customers are going back without buying anything because they can’t afford to buy the whole fish.

"|In the old market, we used to sell big fish on a per kilo basis but here, we are not allowed to sell the big fish loose. Not all customers can buy a big unit of 10kg that costs Dh500. So I request the management to remove this restriction,” said Mohammad Iqbal.

Restrictions

Another vendor, Amjad, concurred on the restrictions such as [vendors] eating on the premises and sitting in the market [when not doing business] as well as the prohibition on bringing water from outside to clean the stalls as of concern.

“Every day, the management is coming up with new rules. Now they are saying we can’t sit or eat at the stalls. I don’t understand the logic. We are paying for everything, right from cleaning and uniforms to electricity and other charges. [Yet], we can’t bring in water to clean the stalls, we can’t bring in our own trolleys to carry our goods, instead we have to pay the porter to bring in our stuff.

“There are too many restrictions,” said Amjad, who deals in prawns and crabs.

While denying that the charges are as high as the vendors claim, director of the market, Mohammad Al Shehi, said that there are certain restrictions [required] to maintain a high level of hygiene.

“We are only charging Dh20,000 as rent per fish stall, other charges are also lower. The uniforms are available for Dh150 per set, the cold storage rent is Dh7,000 per year, which is not mandatory for everyone. Still, if anyone has any concerns, we are flexible and willing to listen,” said Al Shehi.

With world-class hygiene, modern cold storage facilities, air-conditioning, high-tech cutting and cleaning area as well as a sprawling auction area, the management says the rents and charges are justified.

Abdullah Al Qubaisi, Operations Director at Investment Corporation of Dubai, the firm that manages the market.

“With these kind of facilities, one can’t expect the rents and charges to be similar to what used to be at the Deira Fish Market. This is a modern mall and when you consider the facilities, the rents and charges are reasonable. In many cases, for example for the fruits and vegetables section, we asked the vendors to propose the rent and we accepted their proposal,” said Abdullah Al Qubaisi, Operations Director at Investment Corporation of Dubai, the firm that manages the market.

Al Qubaisi said that though these are early days, the occupancy rate at the market has reached 77 per cent and in the next couple of months, major retailers such as Al Ansair Exchange, Supercare Pharmacy, Barrari Gold, Forever Makeup Baskin Robins, will be opening shops.

Understandably, as the market is new, the business is just catching up, but Al Shehi says the footfall at the fish section alone is 7,000 per day and with the market opening to full capacity, they are expecting footfall to go up to 15,000 per day in the next couple of months.

This month, the fruits and vegetables section as well as the meat and poultry section have also opened.

“Everyday new stalls are opening and new services are becoming available. We are learning from our experience and are willing to accommodate whatever changes are required,” said Al Shehi.