Dubai: Amidst the scorching summer, Dubai has opened a cool oasis that will change the way residents shop for fruits and veggies in bulk from the Al Aweer area known for housing the emirate’s Central Fruit and Vegetable Market.
Welcome to the city’s newest gem: a state-of-the-art, air-conditioned fruit and vegetable market extending over 66,000 sqm. Dubai Municipality on Monday opened the Bloom Market, said to be the region’s biggest air-conditioned fruit and vegetable market.
Dawood Al Hajri, director general of Dubai Municipality, officially inaugurated the Bloom Market in Ras Al Khor Industrial Area 3. It is located just a kilometre away from Dubai’s Central Fruit and Vegetable Market, which is also known after the area Al Aweer.
With the accompaniment of African drum beats and songs, guests stepped into the world of freshness as they toured the stalls where umpteen varieties of colourful fruits and vegetables were stacked up neatly. A festive ambiance prevailed in the sprawling facility as the municipality arranged special entertainment activities and refreshments for the customers and guests on the inaugural day.
The two-storey indoor facility is equipped with modern logistical services, storage facilities, display equipment, and three restaurants. It has 400 parking spaces in the basement and a vast area for trucks to unload fresh produce straight into the market.
Mohammed Faraidooni, director of Markets at Dubai Municipality, said the new market has a leasable area of 7,600 sqm on the ground floor for selling fruits and vegetables and 5,500 sqm for logistics. As many as 760 traders have been allotted stalls to operate fruit and vegetable stores on the ground floor.
“Some of the fruits and vegetables are grown in the UAE, so they come straight from the farm to the market. We also have exclusively imported fruits that are not found in other markets to establish this as a distinctive shopping hub,” said Faraidooni.
Complementing, not competing
He said the market provides top-notch services to consumers by adhering to global standards, offering premium products, including a section for organic products at competitive prices. The official said traders are required to provide competitive prices and implement advanced technologies that guarantee the quality and validity of vegetables and fruits in accordance with Dubai’s food safety regulations.
“The uniqueness of this market is that it serves both business-to-consumer and business-to-business as well,” he said, explaining that businesses in the hospitality sector and general consumers can purchase fresh produce from the new market.
In the two-decade-old neighbouring open-air market, the wholesale section for businesses is separate.
Despite the differences in the amenities provided, Faraidooni said, both markets are not meant to compete with but complement each other.
“We’re completing the offer because the market can still accommodate more traders and more business. And at the same time, what differentiates this market from the old one is that this has an AC facility and parking is available. And we have both bulk and retail sales under the same roof.”
The official also revealed that the old Central Fruit and Vegetable Market, which went through several development and expansions including the opening of a multi-storey cold storage facility, would be further revamped. A consultant has been hired to provide a feasibility study by the end of next month, following which higher officials will take a decision, he said.
“Probably, there will be a decision to develop the current market and also to expand this market as well. So this market might also get bigger eventually.”
Faraidooni said the municipality is yet to decide on the type of leasing to be made on the first floor. While the ground floor has been completely leased out with a few traders yet to begin operations, the first floor remains unoccupied.
“We have a lot of proposals on the table [for the first floor]. At the moment, I am not sure if we will make a single, huge shop there or allot space for different shops like on the ground floor,” he said.
However, the official said the plan would definitely see the market expanding the variety of produce on offer. “We will add dates and other dry fruits, eggs, and poultry, but definitely not fish.”
He added that there are plans to have cold storage facilities and launch an app to sell fresh produce from the market online.
Ease of shopping
The municipality has contracted Nas Group for the operations, logistics, and IT support of the facility. The market offers a range of logistics services that facilitate shoppers with staff members assisting with shopping carts, transporting large purchases to customers’ cars, in-market parking, and cleaning services that reduce traffic, and provide a smooth and convenient shopping experience, the municipality highlighted.
Faisal Rahman, who was at the market to purchase wholesale supplies for a fruit and vegetable shop in Al Ain, said the new market would provide more comfort and convenience for members of the public.
“But I think the old market would still be good for us to take wholesale supplies. They have allocated separate blocks to sell each category of fruits and vegetables. Here, I can see they are offering a cocktail of fresh produce in each stall.”
Traders, investors hopeful
Anwar Hussain from Pakistan and Deepa Hemamali from Sri Lanka are two traders who have rented stalls in the market. They said they found it a good investment to open the shops in the new market.
“This market has a lot of facilities that make shopping convenient for residents. I think there is no harm if we sell the products for at Dh1 or Dh2 higher rates. We are hopeful that we will get good business here. We are grateful to Dubai Municipality for providing a three-month rent-free offer to us,” said Hussain.
Abdalla Muhith and his brother-in-law Nahid Rahman are two investors who have come all the way from the UK. “We are among the earliest investors here. He has 36 shops and I have 42,” said Muhith.
“Our parents are originally from Bangladesh but I was born and raised in the UK. We decided to invest in this market because we had never seen anything like this in the UK or Europe. Such a huge facility dedicated only to fruits and vegetables and this is apparently the biggest in this region also. We are quite hopeful about making good business here,” he added.