x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Abu Dhabi livestock market established by Sheikh Zayed will not be moved

Decision to shift the market at Mina to Al Wathba, about 40km out on the road to Al Ain, is overturned, much to the delight of shopkeepers and visitors.

The Abu Dhabi Municipality had planned to move the livestock market at Mina to Al Wathba, about 40km out from the capital on the road to Al Ain. Delores Johnson / The National
The Abu Dhabi Municipality had planned to move the livestock market at Mina to Al Wathba, about 40km out from the capital on the road to Al Ain. Delores Johnson / The National

ABU DHABI // A livestock market established 50 years ago by Sheikh Zayed, the founding President, will now not have to move from its original location.

The market at Mina was to be shifted to Al Wathba, about 40km from the capital on the road to Al Ain, and some retailers had already bought premises there. But now the decision has been made that the market would, instead, get an upgrade.

Work has started across the market and a few shops were being removed to make way for a large entry gate.

Shopkeepers were delighted with Abu Dhabi Municipality's change of heart, which will see an area with a decades-old traditional livestock souq get new ceiling fans, electric cables, switch boxes, toilets and renovated shaded areas.

Fadal Bakht Saeed, who runs Masafi Livestock at the market, said:   "If they were to shift this market to the outskirts of the city, who would drive 40km to buy a goat and get it slaughtered?"

The Urban Planning Council said that there were plans to create a wholesale livestock and vegetable market in Al Mafraq, near Al Wathba. The existing livestock market and carpet market at Mina would not be affected by the move, though it may affect the vegetable market in the port area.

"There is no intention to remove the retail market from the Mina but to have them modernised and redeveloped into a more functional and attractive form," the council said. It added that the same approach would be taken regarding the market functions in Mina Zayed and that the objective remained to enhance them not remove them.

"We are currently studying a location to have wholesale livestock and vegetable functions to a site in Mafraq in order to make these functions more accessible to people living on the mainland," the council said.

Shopkeepers said that the municipality built a market in Al Wathba and several of them bought shops there, in case they had to move.

"But there was no business. If the authorities forcefully shift us, no Arabs or Emiratis travel that far and, ultimately, we would lose our business," Mr Saeed said.

If a new market was to be opened, it should be in Mussaffah, he suggested.

Daulat Khan, a shopkeeper from Mohammed Salem Livestock Trading, said the owner rented a shop in Al Wathba but left due to "no business there".

Cattle traders also complained of scorching hot weather conditions, where the temperature hovers between 50°C and 55°C in summer.

They said that they have to sit next to where the cattle are kept, outdoors, with only shade and no air conditioning for comfort.

When they installed air conditioners, they were removed by the municipality, which said portable air conditioners were not allowed.

Mr Khan also complained that in June and July "we remain in open at the mercy of a ceiling fan. If the municipality allows us, we can make a small cabin outside".

Abu Dhabi Municipality did not respond to requests for comment.

anwar@thenational.ae