SHARJAH // It isn't due to open for more than a year, but already traders are rushing to set up shop in the new Al Jubail market.
Due to open in 2014, at a cost of Dh200 million, it has room for 403 stalls. So far, Sharjah municipality has received applications from 443 individuals and companies.
Nada Al Suwaidi, the director of corporate communications at the municipality, said the response showed the importance residents and businesses in the emirate already attached to the new market.
"The municipality has started receiving the applications, although the board is yet to start reviewing them," she added.
Once complete, Al Jubail will be the biggest market in the emirate. Of the 403 stalls, 162 are set aside to sell fish, 123 for meat and 118 for fruit and vegetables.
It is being built on the site of the old Sharjah fish market that was constructed in 1980 and had only 44 stalls and fewer than 10 stations to clean fish.
As well as more space for merchants, the new building is being designed, like other government buildings in the emirate, to embody Islamic culture. Architects also included areas to store and clean food, which, said Ms Al Suwaidi, were largely lacking in the old market. Parking, four prayer rooms, toilets and administration offices are also included.
Traders still working close to the old market said they were keen to move to new premises as soon as possible as the current site was too small to serve customers.
"There are times when one gets overwhelmed with customers and every one wants to serve him or her first," said Saeed Khan, a fish vendor. "If you are not careful to notice who came first, you may do injustice to some customers and annoy them."
Bashir Kabuye, a Sharjah resident who regularly visits the market, said the long queues annoyed him most.
"One can wait for more than 20 minutes in the evening," he said. "It has been pertinent they improve the services and expand that market because even the neighbouring emirates have bigger fish markets."