Dubai: The newly launched Waterfront Market in Deira is fast emerging as the go-to place to buy fresh foods in Dubai – not without reason.
From just arrived catches of fish, meat and poultry to a crisp crop of fruit and vegetables, dates and honey, the sheer range of produce available under one roof is staggering.
Take the 37,000 square foot fish section with 435 stores and separate areas for auction, dry and fresh fish stalls, cutting and cleaning. As Waterfront Market director Mohammad Al Shehhi said, its impressive spread prompted a GCC visitor to remark that “Dubai’s fish market is more beautiful” than his country’s airport.
“The visitor made this comment along with a photo of the fish market he shared on social media in the first week of the market’s launch six months ago. The post went viral,” said Al Shehhi. As XPRESS toured the 120,000 square metre complex located at the intersection of Al Khaleej Road and Abu Hail Street on the Deira Corniche last week, the sharp contrast from the old fish, fruit and vegetable markets in Deira was more than evident.
“The Waterfront Market was developed taking into consideration the experience and feedback we gathered from consumers in the old markets. Our aim was to upgrade the traditional souq experience and come up with an air-conditioned facility with the highest standards of hygiene,” Al Shehhi said.
Unlike earlier when fruit and vegetable vendors shared stalls, the new, sprawling fruit and vegetables section has separate stores for each of the 120 vendors who either sell local or imported produce. Distinct from the old set-up, there are trolleys too in the new market. As one Asian woman shopping in the fruit section said, “Thank God for these trolleys. In the old market one had to depend on porters and tip them to carry our purchases to the car.”
While the porters are still around, their services are optional and regulated now.
The fruit and vegetable section also sells pickles and other homemade products. There are also separate sections for greens, dates, honey and spices.
Al Shehhi said the meat and poultry section is the busiest.
Quick enquiries about the prices across different sections revealed they were competitive: Dh28 a kilogram for beef from Pakistan, Dh90 a kilogram for big shrimps; Dh35 a kilogram for a big crab; Dh10-45 a kilogram for tuna; Dh2 a kilogram for onions and potatoes; Dh5 for a box of strawberries from Egypt; Dh60 for a kilogram of cherries and so on.
“It’s a free market and we do not interfere with the prices unless there is an issue which is brought to our notice,” said Al Shehhi.
In addition to the fresh food markets, the Ithra Dubai-led Waterfront Market hosts more than 50 retail outlets across three bazaar wings; the East, West and Main bazaars. While the East Bazaar houses services like money exchange, pharmacies and key cutters, the West has retailers selling accessories, flowers, gifts etc. The Main Bazaar is home to gold, perfume and retail shops,
There is a variety of food and beverage outlets from tea and coffee shops to casual and family dining options located on the sea-facing promenade at the rear end of the market. There are also entertainment areas, including a soft play area for kids.
“What I like about this new market is that I can bring my three-year-old child and keep him engaged while I do my weekly shopping,” said an Arab housewife.
Another family doing the rounds of the fruit and vegetable section hoped the market would soon be able to add a section that would stock grocery items as well. “This way, we don’t have to make another visit to a supermarket. I would love to see the Waterfront Market turn into a one-stop shop where I can buy everything from fruit, veggies, fish and meat to other cooking and household essentials, including toiletries,” said an Indian woman.
Beef (Pakistan): Dh28/kg
Big crab: Dh35/kg
Onions & potatoes: Dh2/kg
Box of strawberries from Egypt: Dh5/kg