The Market

Buying local food is important.” Unknown

The other half needed to go to the mall on Saturday which meant electronics shops (yawn), kitchen appliance shops (double yawn) and nutrition shops (zzzzzzzzzzz) but luckily he didn’t find the sports shop. As we were at Mushrif Mall we called in on Abu Dhabi’s latest initiative, The Market. The eco-friendly indoor food market located at one end of the malls car park on the ground floor opened last week and is a modern air-conditioned expanse dedicated to selling fresh local produce. Based on a traditional food souk, The Market has three separate halls offering seafood, meat and fruit and vegetables.

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Now as much as I appreciate the farmers market like concept and the abundance of fresh and local produce on offer here as a non-fish eating vegetarian, the fish and meat halls were not my thing, one because of the smell and secondly the whole lambs heads (could have been goats) complete with eyes and tongues had me literally running for the door. Absolutely gross in my opinion but a traditional delicacy in this region and tasty too I’m told!

ImageThis had me running for the door, lambs or are they goats?!? I didn’t stick around to find out!

The Market was certainly a popular place on Saturday afternoon as people browsed the fresh goods on offer. First off in the seafood section is the pick-your-own fish tanks with live crabs and lobsters then rows of identical stalls displaying the catch of the day packed in ice (complete with eyes, again yuk!). The Fish Market is run by the Abu Dhabi Fisherman’s Co-operative Society, which also operates Mina Fish Market near the corniche in the city. As well as local fish like hammour lots of varieties of fish were on other along with other seafood in the international section from countries such as Europe, India, Oman, Turkey and Yemen. Dotted around the space were aquariums and examples of local fishing traditions such as miniature wooden boats. Beautiful ornate lampposts and arabic tiled features adorn the space and there has certainly been attention to detail here in the well lit, clean and has a hygienic space but that’s might be because it’s so new.

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The crabs await their fate before they end up on someones dinner plate

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The eyes, the eyes

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Sea themed mosaic panel in the fish market

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Traditional wooden fishing boats are on display

Carved tiled plaques of animals line the walls of the meat market where many butchers were in action in their individual stations. This is a perfect place to pick up your BBQ meat but if you fancy heads and trotters it’s all there for the taking. I will be honest once I saw the lambs/goats heads I left the other half to browse the rest of the meat and poultry section on his own while I went to see some more aquariums. Apparently there were local rabbits and the popular South African butchers Springbok has opened a stall selling boerewors and jerky and well as favourite treats for the braai, more exotic impala and springbok are earmarked for importing and selling here in the future.

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More heads and inner things!

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The Farmers Market is well stocked with an array of colourful fruit and vegetable and alongside the obvious essentials for your five-a-day there are stalls selling dates, spices, fresh cheeses. salads and a deli counter. Well priced fresh produce line the shelves and there’s a market like feel as individual retailers jostle for your attention. There is also a hydroponic educational centre informing people about the growing of hydroponic vegetables. Say what? Research has lead me to discover that hydroponic produce (such as herbs, lettuce and cucumber) is grown in sand, gravel, or liquid, with added nutrients but without soil. You literally learn something new everyday even at the market! It all makes perfect sense that this technique is used here where there’s a whole lot of sand here in the desert and the UAE governments are backing this scheme which saves water and has a longer growing season. There is apparently such a farm, Emirates Hydroponics Farm located between Abu Dhabi and Dubai and anyone interested in purchasing their produce online can visit the farms website here.

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An assault on the senses at the spice stall

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Anyone need a date?

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The pretty patterned ceiling in the atrium and the aquariums were much nicer to look at than animal heads and fish eyes

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The National newspaper reported on the opening, ‘The Market spans more than 200,000 square feet with 200 shops selling over 150,000 kilograms of fresh produce daily – no wonder it’s claiming to be the biggest, most technologically advanced and eco-friendly fresh-food market in the region‘. Open daily from 7am to 11pm, The Market was officially opened last Wednesday by Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development.

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The Market was officially opened on 30th April by Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development (source:www.thenational.ae). 

For more information about The Market at Mushrif Mall click here. I did have a little chuckle to myself that even though the market is selling fresh fruit, dates and is in the process of setting up a fresh juice bar plastered all around The Market are these signs discouraging the consumption of purchases so you can look but not touch and buy and not consume on the premises anyway. I would throughly recommend a visit to The Market (well the fruit/veg bit anyway) and don’t forget your eco carrier bags.

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Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2014. All rights reserved.