Dubai: Shutters came down on Deira Fish Market, one of Dubai’s old town relics, following the opening of Waterfront Market on Monday.
Located near Hamriya Port, the Waterfront Market replaces the old market, offering fresh fish, meat, fruits and vegetables.
The market will soon see the opening of coffee shops, restaurants, a supermarket and other retail outlets.
Opening its doors to shoppers on Sunday, only the fish section of the new market is currently open, with a handful of stalls doing business. More vendors are in the process of taking up the stalls.
In May, the vendors at Deira Fish Market received a notice to move their businesses to the Waterfront Market by June 9. Following this, many vendors while speaking to Gulf News, expressed their inability to move due to higher rents at the new market.
According to the vendors, over the last month the rents had been scaled down reasonably following negotiations. This has prompted them to rent the shops.
“Though the rents here are twice of what we had been paying at the Deira Fish Market, we had no choice but to relocate to the new market. I got a much better deal than what I was offered initially, and given the facilities in the market, it’s a fair deal,” said Mohammad Sharief, a prawns and shrimps trader, who was among the first to relocate.
Sharief used to pay around Dh3,000 per month in rents and other costs at the old market and will now have to shell out double that amount per month.
“I think this place is going to attract many more customers with the clean and neat environment, air-conditioning and covered parking facilities. Though we are paying higher rents I hope we should be able to do better business,” he added.
No ‘loose’ fish
Among the handful of vendors who opened shop on Monday was Mohammad Iqbal, who deals in large fish like King Fish, hammour, salmon, etc.
However, Iqbal says restrictions in the new market means he will have to mainly focus on wholesale business.
“My primary business at the old market was to cut bigger fish and sell it ‘loose’ as we call it, or in smaller quantities on per kilogramme basis. But here we are only allowed to sell the whole fish no matter how big it is. I don’t think many people would like buy a 10kg fish,” said Iqbal, who is worried he will lose is regular customers, who prefer buying smaller quantities.
However, Iqbal seemed satisfied with other facilities available in the market.
“The good thing about this market is that the rent we pay also covers the cost of ice, refrigerator, storage, electricity and water. Even the digital weighing scales are provided by the management, so the customers can be assured that there is not going to be any cheating, while the quality of fish is also going to be better,” said Iqbal, while assuring that the prices are not likely to shoot up.
At the market’s management office on the first floor, long queues of vendors waiting to take up the stalls could be seen on Monday.
Customers could be seen trickling into the market as word of its opening spread through social media.
“I think they have done a fantastic job. This is so sleek and cool. The best thing about this place is the free parking facility and the high level of hygiene. I just hope they are not going to hike the prices,” said Zameer Ahmad, a customer.
The market is equipped with a state-of-the-art fish cutting section, which has been contracted to a private firm, which means there is a small increase in fish cutting price, up from Dh1.5 per kg to Dh2 per kg for all categories of fish. However, cutting and cleaning price for prawns, shrimps and crabs remains same at Dh3 per kg.
The fish section at the Deira Fish Market saw its last day of operations on Sunday. However, the vegetables and meat sections have been given time until the end of Ramadan to relocate.