Dubai: Sweating and fretting in summer heat will be a thing of the past for customers and traders at the Central Fruits and Vegetable Market in Al Aweer in Dubai after the next summer.
“Fresher” fruits and vegetables and a literally cool shopping experience will welcome customers at Dubai’s largest market for fresh produce by the end of 2019, officials said on Wednesday.
Both retail and wholesale sections of the sprawling market spread over one-square-kilometre area will be air-conditioned in the ongoing Dh370-million renovation and development project.
“We are expecting to complete the project by the fourth quarter of 2019,” said Ahmad Abdul Karim, assistant director-general of Dubai Municipality for General Support Sector.
Air-conditioning the market was one of the most important demands of the traders, he told Gulf News after signing an agreement to sponsor an exhibition that will boost the trade in the market [see box].
Faisal Juma Al Badaiwi, head of Markets Management Section of the municipality’s Assets Management Department, said the project will be completed ahead of Expo 2020, when the market will receive a huge volume of fresh produce.
“It is summer time and the goods are in the open area. It is very important for us to solve this before we host the Expo,” he explained.
He said the new cold storage area is already operational. The next focus is to air-condition the trading areas for both wholesale and retail sections.
Air-conditioning in a covered building will change the face of the 14-year-old market. Traders will not have to resort to sprinkling water on the fruits and vegetables on display to keep them fresh during summer.
“It [air-conditioning] is good for the produce and for the people,” said Al Badaiwi.
He said the AC system will also help traders to run businesses round the clock.
“The market is open 24 hours as 90 per cent of the produce gets re-exported from this market. Some traders close the shops in the afternoon hours. After the renovation, they don’t have to do that.”
He said the renovation will be done by ensuring least disruption to the operations.
While the existing vendors can continue with display tables on the ground floor, 48 new shops will open on the first floor for wholesale. Ramps in the loading and unloading areas for the auction sites, roads around the market and fences will also undergo renovation to ensure smooth flow of vehicles transporting the goods.
“Now this is an open market. With the new development, we will have better control over all the activities in the market. There will be gates and we will monitor the trade in a better way.”
Dubai Municipality routinely cracks down on illegal vendors who come up with makeshift fruits and vegetable markets on the premises of labour accommodations.
These vendors mostly source the fresh produce from the Central Market and sell them at cheaper rates compared to those in the licensed stores.
Exhibition of perishables on October 1-3
The 10th edition of the World of Perishables (WOP) Dubai 2018 will be held from October 1 to 3 at Dubai World Trade Centre.
Dubai Municipality signed a memorandum of understanding with planetfair Dubai on Wednesday to sponsor the event which will be held under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, UAE Minister of Finance and chairman of Dubai Municipality.
The WOP will be held in conjunction with the International Plants Expo Middle East - IPM Dubai 2018, under the patronage of Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, president of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, CEO and chairman of the Emirates airline and Group, and chairman of Dubai Airports.
“WOP Dubai is an ideal platform for businesses in the fresh produce industry to explore ways to meet the rising demand for fresh vegetables and fruit products and to discuss industry best practices, prospective partnerships and opportunities,” said Ahmad Abdul Karim, assistant director-general of Dubai Municipality for General Support Sector.
“The event becomes even more significant since the UAE is a regional hub for re-export of fresh produce, with the quantity of such goods rising to about 710,000 tonnes in 2017 worth about $1.6 billion, according to the International Trade Centre,” he added.
Tarek Sibai, country director, planetfair LLC, said: “The aim of the exhibition is to promote the import and export of fresh vegetables and fruits in Dubai in general and in the Dubai Central Fruits and Vegetables Market in particular, thanks to the market’s strategic importance in further promoting trade exchange and economic development in the emirate.”